Anyone using MedicAlert?


After learning that my life depended on thyroxine, and realizing that I would not remain OK if I went without it for a few days, and because I have no family, I thought best to get fixed up with medical jewellery.

I chose MedicAlert, but my experience has been bad so far. Has anyone else bought into MedicAlert?

As a warning to others, this is how they have dealt with me ~

I ordered in August -- a silver bracelet, and a cheap tag for when I am doing things not compatible with wearing a bracelet -- but the items took some 7 weeks to come. Their projected delivery time is 28 days. They did not get in touch to explain the delay. They took the full remittance as soon as I ordered! When I 'phoned and asked what was causing the delay, they said they'd had problems with silver quality. I suggested they sent the part order: stainless steel tag and wallet card, but they did not. I had no membership number during these weeks, but was paying for membership.

Eventually, the jewellery arrived, and both items were faulty, so I sent them back. The chain of the bracelet was more angular than on the website photo, and too scratchy for constant wear because of sharp edges. The stainless steel tag was badly engraved, and the "18" in both their emergency number and my number were touching and not clearly readable.

The wallet "card" turned out to be something you press out of a page, sticking the plastic film on the other side for yourself. It tore. It was not up to the job of being stuffed into purses and pockets.

The description of my relationships with my emergency contacts had been bizarrely reinterpreted ....... more on that later.

The silver bracelet came back rounded a bit, so OK.

A replacement s.s. disc came: not as bad as before, but not well engraved. And these are so VERY cheap-looking, with rough edges. A reprint of my papers came: the info on my contacts was even more weird ....... more in a minute!

Seeing as they had got everything wrong so far, I decided to check that they really were holding my thyroxine dosage information. They were not!! No, no. They had a policy of NOT holding dosage information because "dosage can change every few weeks -- even every few days". I was shocked. I had joined mainly so that my thyroxine details could be accessed at any time. They repeatedly state on the website that their emergency number for medical staff to 'phone provides access to your DETAILED medical records. But the very details I want them to hold, cannot be held, apparently. So, I have bought into this disorderly outfit for nothing. It is probably impossible to get a refund even for the membership, even thought it is a case of misselling in my opinion. And their lengthy terms and conditions state that if you cease paying annual subscriptions, you are supposed to destroy your emblems!!!

Last night, I read on a diabetics forum a very similar story by a man with that disease. He too had waited 7 weeks; he too had received an emblem with engraving of numbers too small and close together, the "18" being a particular problem. And he too had found that they protected themselves with their terms and conditions.

MedicAlert state that they answer calls to their emergency number 24/7, from anywhere in the World, and can translate into 100 languages. But where is the evidence? Can a company/charity which is so disorderly possibly achieve this?

And now to my emergency contact information! I gave three. The first I described as "friend": that was OK, they could manage that fine. The next two were the secretary at my church, and the church leader, and this is where it went awry!

First time around they morphed this into "secretary" (implying my personal secretary) and "personal assistant". WHAT? -- So I had both a personal assistant and a secretary: never met them!!!! I told them to correct this, and next time around it was rendered "significant other" and "religious superior" -- effectively billing me as a lesbian nun!!!!!!!!!!! What WAS so difficult, I asked in despair? I was told that they can't type anything into the field; it is just a drop-down chooser. And there are not many choices for non-relatives!! Over the 'phone, I was able to find out what those choices were, and I settled for: "undisclosed" and "pastor".

So, to conclude, I think MedicAlert are very shabbily run at present, and thoroughly mean as well. There are alternatives. There are plenty of testimonies as to how "reassured" people feel when wearing their emblems, but I have not found one story of anyone actually benefiting from their services in an emergency. Does anyone here have such a story?

13 Replies

  • I don't have any experience of MedicAlert, but am nevertheless sorry to read that they have given you such bad service Helenabc :(

    For the benefit of anyone else reading this, Thyroid UK have details of a different scheme on their website called MediPAL.

  • Thank you RedApple. And I shall learn about MediPAL.

  • I have been using medic alert for over 10 years without any of the problems you write of. I do know that they do not keep medication dosages due to regular changes the object of wearing one of these is to alert anyone to the fact there are hidden medical conditions, which can alter what an emergency res-ponder does how they treat. Yes the card is not solid plastic but they are replaced yearly or on any change to details I have never had any problems with mine and I carry it everywhere. I also found out that the emblem is far more important than the card, ambulance staff check for them whilst carrying out initial checks. if coherent they then ask for more details if not they then search for the card. I have so many problems that not all can be fitted on to my bracelet so after discussion with medic alert we came to a joint decision as to what wording went onto bracelet. and yes I have benefited from wearing one when I collapsed and the ambulance staff found my emblem so knew I had vasculitis and stopped trying to get cannulas into veins that were inflamed.

  • Thank you very much for sharing this, tracynoe. It is reassuring that the emblem actually helped you when you unfortunately collapsed. Until reading your story, I had only read of them being ignored. And thank you for simply talking with me about this: like the man on that diabetic forum, I ended up steaming mad, and regretting my decision to join MedicAlert!

  • This article, though USA-biased, is quite interesting on alternatives to the "traditional" bracelets:

    There might be any number of other ideas as well.

  • Thank you helvella,

    I shall take a look at that. Thank you for talking to me on the subject :-)

  • That was a really interesting and informative read, helvella.

  • Welcome - I found it interesting as well.

    Sometime soon most of us should have NHS Summary Care Records. If implemented as well as possible, there is supposed to be the possibility of adding our own information.

    I'd like to think that these could help hugely - but with the proviso that you can indeed add information. (And there will still be at least some difficulty for people who self-medicate.)

    Possibly it could mean that, within the UK (or constituent countries depending on what happens) all that would be needed is your name and NHS number?

    (Far too optimistic. It's bound to go belly up. Or something.)


  • Before you advocate the Summary Care Record System and being part of it you may want to think about opting out given that it will be difficult to control who sees your private information and it could be passed to private companies! Have a read of this and the opt out form is there if you feel so inclined - I have as I want to be in control of who sees my info! :

  • Not really sure how confidential some of the medicalert-type things are. Those that are easily visible already communicate something to random strangers all the time. Sure, probably not lot.

    Not defending SCR, especially as I have not yet had any dealings with them whatsoever, but if it ended up being a choice between:

    A) Some possibility of people who shouldn't occasionally seeing something of my records, but the information being readily available in case of emergency;


    B) Total security because no-one can access the information, even in an emergency.

    I think I'd choose A.

    As someone who see unbelievable amounts of very confidential information pretty much every working day, I have to say that only the rarest fragment ever lodges in my brain. At this moment I can't even think of a single piece of such information!

    The SCR system is supposed to record each and every viewing of every record. And that record of viewing is supposed to be to some extent accessible by the subjects. Again, not seen how it works in the real world.

    Yes - there are concerns. Yes - I might decide that some aspects are very wrong or badly implemented.


  • I don't think its the odd random viewing that is to be worried about, its the fact that our records can be given to private companies, Pharmaceutical companies etc. Thats what I will have an issue with. Once it leaves the domain in which it was meant you have lost control!

  • i do like the usb one

  • I wear a MedicAlert Bracelet and have been with them for three years since my Stroke. I understand what Helen is saying but you do need to spend some time with them and make sure they get the details right. I had them repeat mine several times before I was satisfied and they were happy to do this. Someone will call you and spend the time with you making sure you are happy. They will also replace anything that you are unhappy with if it is not what you were expecting. Ask to speak with a Manager or write a letter of complaint.

    I have have had to get strict with them on one occasion but Im sure as a Charity they too are running with a small staff and reduced costs. However I do think once they get it right it is a good service and the bottom line is that in a real emergency that the right information gets to the right people. So Im prepared to spend the time on the phone making sure my details are correct and repeating myself if thats what it takes. In the long run the bracelets are good quality and don't brake and I have peace of mind.

    I hope that helps.

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