Medical tattoos gaining popularity

Margaret Reaume, Staff Reporter

Have you ever considered that getting a tattoo could be the key to saving your life someday? As shocking and strange as this question may seem, many Americans are getting “inked up” not just because they want to be trendy but to alert paramedics about serious medical conditions they have.

A small group of Americans have begun to get tattoos in order to provide information about their health to paramedics or even end of life wishes. The most common reason for these tattoos are to alert medical personnel about people who have serious allergies to things such as penicillin, peanuts, or aspirin. Other tattoo users are those who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

If the tattoos become more popular in the future, they might start to replace medical jewelry, such as medical bracelets that list allergies. But there is a lot of uncertainty about the implementation of these tattoos for all people with important medical issues like chronic diseases. Many are not sure of the paramedics would even notice the tattoos or respect the wishes of the patient who may be dying. Others are worried that there is no legal substance behind the bracelets and that there would have to be paperwork verifying the tattoos. As of now, the American Medical Association has not formally acknowledged the medical tattoos in its guidelines and some state laws do not recognize them either.