The application just does not seem practical or realistic. There are simply too many things that can go wrong for me to trust a tattoo someone has on their body. Special codes or not, people do crazy things with tattoos. A listing of allergies might sound cool, but as the EMT stated this is probably not useful in that sense. Allergies do change over time, are misdiagnosed, patients are misinformed as to what an allergy is and allergies are sometimes quite extensive. I have seen people with a listing of over ten medications on their forms. There are people that simply get Benadryl around the clock just because they have so many.
A DNR on the chest or “No CPR” on the body is just dangerous in my opinion. If anyone has seen the actual sheet for that declaration there have to be two physician signatures on the form, the patient’s signature and a witness to the event. As a medical professional, I have to know that my patient was advised of what this change in code status means to them. Someone having a tattoo on their chest does not cover me if their wife decides to scream, “Oh my God save him.” Then there is the fiasco if someone decided to change their mind. If hospitals recognized the tattoo, then it would be hell getting that changed. Whereas to go from DNR to full code is a matter of, “hey, I want to be a full code.”
For organ donation there has to be a previously established consent. The staff at the hospital will contact an organ procurement agency once a patient’s glascow coma scale reaches a certain number. A patient’s family member with the ability to make medical decisions can alter a patient’s status as organ donor. The organ procurement agency will then send someone to evaluate the medical history of the patient and go from there. A tattoo here really serves no purpose. Those in the emergency room where someone might experience sudden death are not going to perform the organ procurement, that is unethical and illegal.
As for posting a medical diagnosis on a patient, this would be a violation of HIPPA. Certainly people are thinking of type 1 diabetes, but in all honesty that is still a bit over kill. Standard procedure is to check a blood sugar if someone collapses or is unresponsive. The test is too simple and quick not to do. The problem comes for people that have HIV or some similar disease. These tattoos will become more of a brand than anything else. People with genetic defects may also find themselves branded as the symbols or meanings become more publicized. There is a reason medical records are treated as private information.