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July 3, 1981

'Medical Alert' for Witnesses

JAMA. 1981;246(1):19. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320010011007

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Jehovah's Witnesses now carry on their persons "Medical Alert" cards directing that no blood transfusions be administered to them. The cards indicate that the Witnesses will accept nonblood expanders.

In a meeting with representatives of the American Medical Association to clarify the religious group's position, three representatives of the world headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses—J. Lowell Dixon, MD, M. G. Smalley, and Jon Schiller, MD—further explained that, contrary to popular medical belief, the Witnesses do not accept autotransfusions. (This is not explicitly stated on the Medical Alert Card.)

According to Dixon, Smalley, and Schiller, the card has been in use for about ten months. Although it is not a legally binding document, the Witnesses hope that it will prove helpful to emergency room personnel.

The card states that the document is valid even if the patient is unconscious, and that physicians and hospitals are released "of any liability for damages