The hottest trend in body art today is medical tattoos.
Those are tattoos specially designed to warn emergency responders about important medical conditions. For example: Most people get tattoos on the wrist, where they’d normally wear a bracelet - to list information about allergies, or chronic diseases like diabetes. Others get tattoos on their chest, to emphasize certain end-of-life wishes. Like one man we read about who has the words “NO CPR” tattooed over his heart, where a paramedic would likely see it.
Medical tattoos are common enough that most tattoo shops are reporting requests for them, and people who have them say they’re more practical than wearing a bracelet, because a tattoo makes a stronger and more permanent statement.
However, if you’re considering getting one, experts say there are a few things to keep in mind:
First: Medical tattoos are NOT standardized. That means there’s no guarantee first responders will know what to look for if you need help. As an example, if you Google “diabetic tattoo,” you’re going to find hundreds of different designs, in different locations.
Also: So far, medical tattoos don’t carry any LEGAL weight. Experts say that’s something to consider if you wish to be left alone if you stop breathing, for example. You can’t just assume that a tattoo will stop anyone from trying to perform CPR on you.
The good news is that a growing number of emergency responders are now being trained to look for tattoos. But for now, experts say it’s important to talk to your doctor before getting a medical tattoo, and to stick with standardized medical necklaces and bracelets until these tattoos are more mainstream.