Medical alert bracelets are designed to be worn if you have important or unusual medical conditions or allergies that could affect the medical treatment you get if you are incapacitated, unconscious, or otherwise unable to communicate with medical personnel.
There’s a wide range of medical conditions that doctors often recommend wearing an alert bracelet for, including type one diabetes, certain allergies, and having a pacemaker to name just a few.
Medical alert bracelets aren’t just for medical emergencies, either. They’re often recommended for people who have memory issues or degenerative cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, in case they get lost and disoriented—a passerby or Good Samaritan can use the bracelet to figure out who to call to help your loved one get back to where they belong.
If you or someone you love needs a medical alert bracelet, here are the ten top manufacturers of medical alert bracelets.
1. Road iD
Road iD specializes in making medical alert bracelets for runners, hikers, cyclists, and other active individuals. A standard all-metal medical alert bracelet is usually too cumbersome if you are out for a run—it bounces around and irritates your skin when you sweat.
Road iD makes sweatproof and waterproof bracelets as well as shoe tags that are lightweight and very easy to use. They aren’t as stylish or elegant as some of the more jewelry-inspired medical alert bracelets, but Road iD is impossible to beat when it comes to usability for people with an active lifestyle, making it our top pick.
2. Medic Alert
Medic Alert makes classically-styled low-profile medical alert bracelets. Their best products have small, round medical alert tags on slender chains.
It’s a pragmatic and durable design, as the bracelet is made of all-stainless steel, so it won’t tarnish or scratch. If you need something understated and easy to wear, this should be your choice.
3. American Medical ID
American Medical ID makes medical alert bracelets in the classic style you’re probably familiar with. Their bracelets are mostly silver wristbands with a slim profile that still leaves enough room for a few lines of engravings.
There are a lot of options for sizing, which makes American Medical ID a great choice if you’ve got unusually small or large wrists.
The base medal is silver, with an overlay of rhodium to prevent tarnishing and scratching, so this medical alert bracelet will last for quite a while.
4. Lauren’s Hope
Lauren’s Hope makes a wide range of medical alert bracelets, but their best products are those that are specially tailored for women.
There are options in rose gold, silver, and real gold. Many Lauren’s Hope medical alert bracelets are designed to resist tarnishing from exposure to harsh chemicals, like those found in swimming pools and spas.
If you want bracelet options that are trendier, flashier, and stylish, Lauren’s Hope is the way to go.
5. Elegant Medical Alert
Elegant Medical Alert makes medical alert bracelets chiefly out of durable and corrosion-resistant metals like stainless steel. Their best medical alert bracelets are made of thick, heavy metal links and are easy to spot.
The more rugged and durable look isn’t for everyone, but if you are worried that smaller and more delicately made medical alert bracelets won’t hold up with your active lifestyle, Elegant Medical Alert Bracelets are a good option.
6. N-Style ID
N-Style ID is the medical alert bracelet with the broadest variety in the styles of medical alert bracelets that it offers.
This company makes everything from nylon paracord bracelets to rose gold metal bracelets, all of which have easily recognizable medical alert symbols.
While the materials and design aren’t quite as durable as some of the other medical alert manufacturers, the options when it comes to style are unmatched, so if you are picky about fashion or if you want something a little out of the ordinary, N-Style ID is the way to go.
7. StickyJ Medical
StickyJ Medical uses a broader variety of materials in their most popular medical alert bracelets. It’s a good source for “disposable” medical alert bracelets that you can travel with without worrying about losing, or to bring along as a spare.
With inexpensive but durable materials like silicon and nylon bands, StickyJ Medical Alert Bracelets are good options for people who don’t like heavier and more understated metal medical alert bracelets.
8. Universal Medical Data Elite USB
Among the various makers of medical alert bracelets with USB capabilities, Universal Medical Data makes the best.
The utility of any electronic medical alert bracelet is sometimes questionable, because first responders often won’t have the time or resources to open up detailed information on a USB drive.
Universal Medical Data gets around this by providing an easy to cary medical alert card that’s made of waterproof and rip-resistant Tyvek material.
If you have a lengthy and detailed medical history that would be useful for doctors at a hospital, this medical alert bracelet is a good option.
9. Hope Paige Medical Alert Bracelets
Hope Paige makes only a small selection of medical alert bracelets, but their products shine when it comes to lightweight but durable materials that are nonmetallic.
Hope Paige makes braided and straight nylon straps for several of their medical alert bracelets, so if you aren’t enthusiastic about the all-metal designs from other manufacturers, Hope Paige is a good choice.
10. Safe Guard Medi-Systems Key 2 Life
Safe Guard Medi-Systems Key 2 Life makes a USB-based medical alert bracelet. The idea is clever: if you have a long and complex medical history, it’s often difficult to fit everything you need onto a few lines of a standard medical alert bracelet.
However, in an emergency situation, accessing the information on a USB drive is not always easy or feasible.
The materials on the Key 2 Life are not the most durable, either, so while it’s good in theory, it’s uncertain whether the USB drive will hold up to wear and tear over the years.
Medical alert bracelets benefits and uses
Medical alert bracelets are durable pieces of jewelry worn around your wrist that can provide emergency medical responders and doctors with critical information about your medical history that could affect your care.
Medical alert bracelets are especially important for people who have medical conditions that could leave them unconscious or incapacitated, because they won’t be able to alert medical personnel to important information about their medical history.
We’ll go over some of the benefits and types of conditions that warrant wearing a medical alert bracelet.
Using a medical alert bracelet
People who have allergies to foods, insects, or commonly used medications can benefit from a medical alert bracelet. If you have severe allergies to bee stings, peanuts, penicillin, or another fairly common exposure that could result in a life-threatening allergic reaction, a medical alert bracelet can help a Good Samaritan or emergency first responder identify the problem and save your life.
It can be especially important. According to research published in the journal Pediatrics, a scientific publication marshaled by the American Association of Pediatricians, the prevalence of allergies to food is approximately 8% in the general population (1).
Among those who have food allergies, almost 40% of children have a history of severe adverse reaction to the food or foods they are allergic to, which would definitely be grounds for getting a medical alert bracelet. If you carry an epinephrine injector, or Epipen, it can be extremely useful to note on your bracelet.
That way, if you are incapacitated, a passerby or an emergency first responder can quickly try to find your Epipen and administer epinephrine.
Even if you don’t have your Epipen on you, first responders can have an epinephrine injection ready when they arrive.
If you put a warning about a medication allergy on your medical alert bracelet, you should talk to your doctor to make sure it’s accurate. Many people have allergies to common medications used in hospitals, such as penicillin, but research shows that many people who think they have a penicillin allergy are mistaken.
A study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine by a team of doctors at at the University of Cincinnati Department of Emergency Medicine used immune reaction screening on a group of 150 patients admitted to the emergency department, all of whom reported having a penicillin allergy (2).
The results showed that 91% of the patients who claimed to have penicillin allergies, in fact, did not show an allergic reaction on a skin prick test.
This could have implications for healthcare, as some of the medications that are penicillin alternatives have additional adverse side effects, and even reporting a penicillin allergy—regardless of whether it is accurate or not—has been associated with increased length of hospital stays and increased rates of antibiotic-resistant infections.
That’s according to a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (3).
These results indicate that it’s well worth your time to go see an allergy specialist to make sure the allergies you record on your medical alert bracelet are accurate before you get one.
Certain things, like your blood type or a “do not resuscitate” indicator, might not belong on a medical alert bracelet. Though it would seem logical to put critical information like your blood type or if you do not want to be resuscitated if you become incapacitated, practical and legal concerns prevent emergency responders from being able to trust the information on a medical alert bracelet when making a mistake could cost you your life.
If your blood type were incorrectly reported on your medical alert bracelet, for example, a transfusion of the wrong type of blood could kill you.
If you need to be administered blood, paramedics will usually just use universal blood to transfuse immediately, then use a blood typing kit to determine your blood type on the spot.
Similarly, since a medical bracelet does not carry the legal authorization of an advance healthcare directive (or “living will”), doctors might ignore bracelets or other personal attire that says “do not resuscitate,” due to their potential for being inaccurate, out of date, or not sufficiently detailed.
A widely discussed 2017 article in the New England Journal of Medicine discussed a case where an unconscious patient was admitted with a “do not resuscitate” tattoo (4). The tattoo caused more confusion than clarity; the physicians had to convene an emergency meeting of the ethics committee to decide whether to follow the tattoo’s instructions.
A much better solution is to have an advance healthcare directive on file, and wear a medical alert bracelet with your name and date of birth.
This way, doctors can rapidly and easily access your advance healthcare directive and confirm the precise details of your personal wishes.
Another piece of information that is very useful to include is the name and contact information of a loved one who can make medical decisions for you.
Medical alert bracelets can provide doctors, first responders, and Good Samaritans with critical information that can help save your life or improve the medical care you get if you become unconscious or incapacitated.
Things like allergies, important medications, and other critical health information can be very useful to include on a medical alert bracelet.
However, it’s important to make sure everything you put on your medical alert bracelet is accurate, as research shows that many people are mistaken when it comes to their medication allergies.
Finally, some things that you might think to put on your medical alert bracelet aren’t particularly helpful—your blood type, for example, is much more easily and safely determined by paramedics from a blood typing kit, and the words “do not resuscitate,” by themselves, might not be honored.
If you have an advance healthcare directive, you can indicate this, but you should provide your full name and date of birth on your medical alert bracelet, plus contact information for a loved one. That way, the precise details of your advance medical directive can be followed with no ambiguity.
Once you know what to put on your medical alert bracelet and what to leave off, it’s a lot easier to understand how they can help improve the medical care you get if you are unconscious or incapacitated.