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January 23, 1978

The Medic Alert Emblem: An Absolute Indication

Author Affiliations

University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia

JAMA. 1978;239(4):294. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280310026006

To the Editor.—  Emergency medical therapy is riddled with many potentially disastrous complications less likely to occur in nonemergent situations that permit careful and thoughtful evaluation of history. The morbidity of drug reactions and interactions is intensified when medication history is unavailable, especially when a patient's medication is infrequently prescribed and relatively unfamiliar to the emergency physician. These are the exact conditions under which emergency treatment must be initiated for the unconscious or noncommunicative patient taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).Substantial neurologic, cardiovascular, and hyperpyrexic toxic reactions are known to occur in patients taking an MAOI and given analgesics or anesthetics,1,2 at times resulting in mortality. If the emergency physician is alert to this potential problem, he will avoid analgesics and modify a required anesthetic, thus reducing the potential risk.The medic alert emblem is a reliable method permitting patients to relate such critical historical facts at