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# 176941 16-Jul-2015 18:52
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If you have a medical alert bracelet / tag, and you live in New Zealand, my advice is stay away from the charity MedicAlert NZ.

If you live in a country continually without universal healthcare / socialized medicine, it probably make sense.

If you travel a lot internationally, I'd probably keep rely on self-printed wallet cards, or engraved bracelets / tags.

Some have tattoos with their medical alert information. Ignoring the many obvious problems with a tattoo, you should know that it's easy for first responders to miss even a large medical alert tattoo, as it's unexpected.

Here's what I did

* Googled "medical alert emblem images" to see example images, and then "engraved medical alert OR tag" to find an engraver. Jewellery stores also carry a huge selection.

* on the dog tags, at a minimum put "Wallet card has details" and your NHI number. You may have room for a little medical information like "peanut allergy" OR "type 1 diabetes"

* buy business cards, and make sure it has a background image like a red cross. I have two cards, printed on both sides, including next of kin, lawyer, and even "I have pets at home."

Back to MedicAlert NZ, when the charity was established in 1962, it made sense, because medical records were kept as paper files.

Now that St Johns ambulance drivers have internet connected devices, it seems as anachronistic as an iron lung.

A MedicAlert NZ basic membership only gives a wallet card, with a $45/year renewal. On the positive note, their bracelet or dog tag were more pricey, but are more now in line with jewellery stores.

If you check their marketing video, it mentions the bracelet, and paramedics can "access your on-line medical information immediately."

Well, a NZ paramedic can access your medical information immediately anyhow, as all your medical records are on-line. St John's ambulance can even send photos of your injuries to the hospital before you arrive.

From MedicAlert's FAQ: "All paid up annual members are entitled to free unlimited demographic and medical file updates and should log-in to their personal members account to make free changes to personal information in their ManageMyHealth account. Clinical diagnosis and prescription medications are required to be authenticated by your clinician either electronically or via a certificate"

Then it states "You can ensure your medical record is up to date at any time. MedicAlert will process these updates for you when ever you notify us."

In other words, when your medical conditions change, you need to use MedicAlert's website. Worse when your prescriptions change, you need jump through several hoops to get it updated at MedicAlert. Again unless you live outside of New Zealand, maintaining a separate copy of your medical records and prescriptions seems pretty useless.

Without using MedicAlert NZ, I believe you can make a St John's job a tiny bit easier by having a dog tag with your NHI number. More importantly, for the non-professional public, a few lines of text on your medical ID could save precious seconds. Again I'm somewhat dubious as to the value of a NZ paramedics dialling an 800 number to get medical information, when they already have instant access to your official medical records.

What really annoys me is the constant begging for more money yearly, to the point of misleading and threatening "renewals" even after you cancel.

I registered 2 years ago for an MedicAlert NZ bracelet

I did some test calls to the emergency "break-glass" 800 number on the bracelet. I never was able to talk to a person, and got dumped into voicemail. Perhaps the phone service has improved since then.

The "ManageMyHealth" website was always down. The non-emergency customer service number receptionist would always dump me into someone's voicemail, which no one ever returned. After several weeks and some rather strong language to the receptionist I finally talked to a person, and told them to cancel.

Yet I still receive renewals. Worse I consider the "renewals" misleading.

As I said, I cancelled two years ago. The renewal "invoice" has in tiny print overdue amount of zero dollars. In a font that's ten times bigger it says "Total amount due: $45.00" It goes onto say that it's for advanced services, services yet to be given.

In red and bold: "Government regulations have changed. Non payment of a charities invoice is now required to be treated as a bad debt."


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  # 1345700 16-Jul-2015 18:57
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This is the text of an email I received from Medic Alert 2 days ago (I am a member).

"The completely avoidable death of Eunice Richardson is a major concern to MedicAlert® Foundation and to everyone I have spoken to on this matter. MedicAlert® Foundation has taken this message to the government and all the other political parties, demanding action. We urge you to do the same, both to protect your own best interests and those of other health consumers who use, and trust, the MedicAlert® Harm Prevention System.

If you have not yet read the MedicAlert® National Health and Safety Protocols, it is imperative you do so: http://www.medicalert.co.nz/uploadGallery/MAHP.pdf . These Protocols should constitute your ‘minimum expectations’ of the New Zealand Health System, in accordance with your Health Consumer Rights as specified: http://www.hdc.org.nz/the-act--code/the-code-of-rights/the-code-(full)

Mrs Richardson died after her MedicAlert® Service Supported Medical ID was ignored and she was given drugs to which she had a life-threatening allergy. It is critically important that you speak out, loudly and promptly, if you feel your own MedicAlert® Service Supported Medical ID is being ignored because you, too, may be exposed to harm. The Health and Disability Commissioner has recommended Policies be established to ensure routine checking for MedicAlert® Bracelets (or necklaces) by the DHB. This needs to apply nationally across all DHB Services and Emergency Service Providers, in the full context of the MedicAlert® Harm Prevention System.

Important: Your authentic MedicAlert® Medical ID should never be removed – doing so could expose you to risk. Your MedicAlert Medical ID could be your first line or last line of protection.

We also stress the need for you to regularly check your information on file with MedicAlert® Foundation. It is available securely online. If you have not already done so, ask your GP to do an electronic referral to MedicAlert®, to ensure your information gets updated and is kept up to date.

The Foundation provides a nationwide and internationally accessible secure connected Medical Alerting Portal, which includes an Allergies/Warnings Register. The previous Minister of Health Hon Tony Ryall launched the system in August 2010 – almost 5 years ago: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/local-papers/upper-hutt-leader/4032277/Vital-aid-for-patients

The Foundation says it is now time for the Government to step up and get the Ministry of Health and all DHBs connected online with the MedicAlert® System, to prevent New Zealanders being exposed to avoidable harm and death. No one of wants another tragic case like that of Eunice Richardson so urgent steps must be taken.

I am concerned people in the Ministry and within DHBs may be more worried about reinventing the wheel, than utilising an already internationally recognised, proven and trusted system, supported by World Allergy Organisation and World Health Organisation prevention protocols.

If you agree, tell the Minister of Health, Jonathan Coleman, you want this to happen with urgency to protect yourself from harm - email the Minister: jonathan.coleman@parliament.govt.nz.

With your support and your voice being heard, together we can ensure your Health Consumer Rights are honoured and respected.

Your support is welcomed and appreciated."





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  # 1345704 16-Jul-2015 19:03
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I visited their website. Their main product is the bracelets then?

Also, from your post: "Well, a NZ paramedic can access your medical information immediately anyhow, as all your medical records are on-line. St John's ambulance can even send photos of your injuries to the hospital before you arrive."

Well, ambulance crew can't access your records if they find you unconscious and with no id on you. That's where these bracelets come handy, if you have a condition that really needs some attention.

As it is, no reason for myself or immediate family to use one.  




 
 
 
 


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  # 1345743 16-Jul-2015 20:05
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I have a bracelet and a wallet card. The bracelet has prevented me being given treatment that would have very serious consequences if given.




Mike
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The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

Using empathy takes no energy and can gain so much. Try it.

 

 




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  # 1345790 16-Jul-2015 21:05
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To be clear MedicAlert default membership is a wallet card. A bracelet or dog tag is extra.

If you're unconscious and your ID is stolen, your situation is exactly the same.

I have a "do-it-yourself / one-time cost" dog tag with some medical info, plus more on wallet cards.

Regarding Mrs Richardson's death, it is regrettable.

As all NZ medical records are on-line, I suspect her medical records were accessed even before she got in the ambulance. It's unlikely that MedicAlert's records were better than her GP's, though the allergy may have been more clearly stated in MedicAlert.

I'd guess medical personnel didn't read her medical records thoroughly, which directly led to her death and is a serious offence.



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  # 1345885 17-Jul-2015 07:14
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Regarding Eunice Richardson death, it sounds like her death was primarily due to the hospital being undermanned.

Since the staff ignored large orange allergy warning stickers on every page of her health file, a "do-it-yourself" medical alert bracelet with an engraved "Trimethoprim allergy" may not have been prevented her demise.

I wonder if her MedicAlert bracelet added the text "Trimethoprim allergy", or just had the usual generic text of a membership number.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/70176371/grievous-error-led-to-eunice-richardsons-death

"The nurses union raised concerns about a busy Princess Margaret Hospital ward 18 months before an 80-year-old woman died from a hospital mishap.

Eunice Richardson died in November 2013 after she suffered a severe allergic reaction from being given bacteristatic antibiotic, Trimethoprim, while in care at Princess Margaret Hospital in Christchurch.

She was already known to have an allergy to the drug and wore a MedicAlert bracelet. Every page of her health file had a large orange sticker with a warning about the allergy.

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill recommended the Medical Council of New Zealand and Nursing Council of New Zealand consider competency reviews of the doctor and nurse responsible for Richardson's treatment.

According to Hill's report, Richardson suffered a severe adverse reaction to the antibiotic trimethoprim in 2006.

When she was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital to recuperate after hip surgery in 2013 she wore a MedicAlert bracelet to highlight the allergy, and a warning was on each page of her admission file."




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  # 1345900 17-Jul-2015 08:20
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kingdragonfly: 

I wonder if her MedicAlert bracelet added the text "Trimethoprim allergy", or just had the usual generic text of a membership number.



From experience, I can certainly state that the bracelet my wife wears has all three of the drugs she is allergic to stated clearly on the reverse, along with the "usual generic text of a membership number". 

Those three drugs are multi-syllabic names of sulphur-based anaesthetics, so there's plenty of room to put what you want there. 

On the order forms for the bracelet she had the choice to put that text on there or not...







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  # 1612273 16-Aug-2016 01:38
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Like the OP, I don't have a positive view of MedicAlert based on many of the same issues. While the service may be useful for many I haven't seen any benefits from it.

 

MedicAlert still has invoices for unwanted services or charges that aren't obvious from the membership terms, e.g. a cancellation form and fee which I never heard of before.

 

MedicAlert communications appear to promote MedicAlert more than anything else. I find a lack of clarity in their communications that is also common to hard sell marketing techniques. I often notice the emphasis on enhancing fears, drawing my focus to uncertainties and creating doubt about the ability of the national health system to preserve my life. That's probably why my wife's fears lead her to say yes while I was saying no.

 

MedicAlert's constant references to authorities, such as professional health organisations, appears designed to promote confidence in MedicAlert. But when you look in the other direction it is apparent that the connections are probably not that strong. For example, while "The previous Minister of Health Hon Tony Ryall launched the system", he appears to have had no other involvement with it. Likewise many of those professional health organisations appears to have little, if any, references to support MedicAlert's point of view. So I see MedicAlert list one that is positive, e.g. the World Allergy Organisation, with a much larger one that does not appear to be, e.g. the World Health Organisation.

 

MedicAlert's consultation documents also disclaim that all the listed organisations are actually consulted so it is difficult to see what they are actually doing. I really don't support closer integration with the national health system.

 

The reach of MedicAlert outside the USA appears to be much less than the "an already internationally recognised, proven and trusted system".

 

 


 
 
 
 




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  # 1614039 19-Aug-2016 07:00
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When two strangers, with no financial ties to the product, come to the same conclusions, it has more weight than a company rep.

It's not appropriate for a company rep to call users' complaints, "bitter and twisted," and state only you want truth to come out, Again you have an obvious financial motive. For a company rep, you should know an antagonistic response doesn't create a sympathetic image for MedicAlert.

I took from the other person's post is that he mostly agreed with my post, and added MedicAlert has "fluffed up" its New Zealand credentials by name dropping, and exaggerated its international presence. He offered reasonable facts to back up his claims.

Here's an obvious mistruth on your part: "As you would have clearly read on the notice - The notice was in relation to the Government Regulations, an Auditor required MedicAlert to put the notice in red on all of our forms for two years."

The obvious questions are what audit, was it an independent and publicly published? The only audits I could find were all internal and private.

I'd love to see a link for "the Government Regulation" about printing in red for two years the you must pay or else notices on invoices.

MedicAlert "fluffs up" it partnership with ManageMyHealth. They store the records, not you.

Using your own marketing information, 80% of GP use ManageMyHealth.

In a 2015 newspaper article, that there were 140,000 Medical members. That's about 3% of NZ population.

So it's much more likely your GP is entering your information into ManageMyHealth for patients without a MedicAlert subscription.

Also it's certain that all first responders have access to ManageMyHealth independent of MedicAlert.

Your self-contradicting statement "Actually your records are not online at all, and not all of your records are visible currently" is also contradicted by 80% of GP's use ManageMyHealth.

I'd rather save money and do an create an emergency bracelet and wallet cards myself.


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  # 1614093 19-Aug-2016 09:31
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Perhaps your condition isn't bad enough to warrant the bracelet then? As someone who's been taken by Ambo to A&E 200+ times near death during my teenage years the bracelet has saved my life almost every time. 

 

First responder's at least in Wellington dont really dig out wallets and whatnot, A tat might work but the braclet is what people are trained to look for. A NHI number requires them to make calls or access records and allergy information is not always clearly available even at A&E from these records but my bracelet said "Cold Urticaria/Anaphylaxis/Requires Adrenaline" which was all the info needed to stabilize me for transport and save my life. I'm not really sure why the OP is focusing so much on health records and what not, The bracelet primary purpose is to give enough info to first responder's to start treatment or atleast let A&E know what to expect - Everything past this is secondary. 

 

As for fees considering how many times it's saved my life i still donate every year even tho i dont need one anymore





Most problems are the result of previous solutions...

All comment's I make are my own personal opinion and do not in any way, shape or form reflect the views of current or former employers unless specifically stated 



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  # 1614136 19-Aug-2016 09:56
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To MedicAlert: you made a claim about an auditor required certain text on the "pay now or else" invoices.

You pointed me to a generic website about audit standards. Searching the website doesn't show an audit.

Where's the actual audit you're mentioned?

I suspect you're being dishonest about its contents

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  # 1614236 19-Aug-2016 10:54
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Have medic-alert ever though about making their bracelets a little less tacky looking? 

 

I'm sure they quite on trend in the 70s or 80s or something but now they look more than a little pimpy.

 

 





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  # 1614286 19-Aug-2016 12:21
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Beccara:

 

Perhaps your condition isn't bad enough to warrant the bracelet then? As someone who's been taken by Ambo to A&E 200+ times near death during my teenage years the bracelet has saved my life almost every time.

 

 

This is one of the problems with being critical of any entity that is valued by and important to many people. The debate so easily transforms into an argument about personal value. I don't think that this should become a pissing contest about who has the greatest need and, by implication, whose personal viewpoint carries the most weight.


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  # 1614320 19-Aug-2016 12:51
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The op's information is wrong and dangerous and I sincerely hope anyone with a major medical condition that would require a bracelet ignores it. Ambo crew's don't check your pockets or wallet or phone or home base, You should not count on them knowing your condition or treatment plan via any other method other than the bracelet. Even a tat may not be picked up and a card in a pocket or wallet certainly wont.

 

 

 

Whatever beef the op has on invoices and medical file's is secondary to the purpose that Medical Alert serves, Yes they beg for money but if they have ever saved your life you wouldn't give a second thought to giving them money, It easy to throw stones when it's not your life on the line or you've never needed them





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All comment's I make are my own personal opinion and do not in any way, shape or form reflect the views of current or former employers unless specifically stated 

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  # 1614382 19-Aug-2016 14:45
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Beccara:

 

The op's information is wrong and dangerous and I sincerely hope anyone with a major medical condition that would require a bracelet ignores it. Ambo crew's don't check your pockets or wallet or phone or home base, You should not count on them knowing your condition or treatment plan via any other method other than the bracelet. Even a tat may not be picked up and a card in a pocket or wallet certainly wont.

 

 

 

Whatever beef the op has on invoices and medical file's is secondary to the purpose that Medical Alert serves, Yes they beg for money but if they have ever saved your life you wouldn't give a second thought to giving them money, It easy to throw stones when it's not your life on the line or you've never needed them

 

 

 

 

I take serious medication with serious consequences if ignored. On at least two occasions my wallet card has been ignored but my medic alert bracelet has not. I however carry both and will continue to do so.





Mike
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The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

Using empathy takes no energy and can gain so much. Try it.

 

 


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