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New Research Reveals Need for Doctors to Know About Medical Tattoos

New Research Reveals Need for Doctors to Know About Medical Tattoos


May 18, 2009

More people are turning to a new trend to let others know about their medical condition – tattooing. A case report presented today at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 18th Annual Meeting & Clinical Congress shed light on this new phenomenon, while urging discussion from the medical community.

The report’s primary author, Saleh Aldasouqi, MD, FACE, first discovered medical tattooing when Todd Walsh, a type 1 diabetes patient, came in for an evaluation and management of his diabetes. While performing a physical examination, Dr. Aldasouqi noticed a medical alert with the word ‘Diabetic’ tattooed on Walsh’s right forearm, just above the wrist.

Walsh has lived with diabetes since he was 22 months old. Growing up, he wore medical alert bracelets. While playing sports and other activities in his teens, the bracelets often broke. As he got older, Walsh began wearing the 14k medical medallion around his neck.

“I wore the medallion for ten years,” Walsh said. “But found that I needed to replace the pendant about every two and a half years.”

He figured each time he replaced the pendant, it cost about 150 dollars. He began looking for a more permanent solution – and settled on a tattoo.

“After trying all kinds of less efficient medical alerts like bracelets and necklaces, I found that a tattoo was a more permanent solution to let everyone know that I have diabetes,” Walsh said. “For me, it was simply a cost-saving method.”

Walsh told Dr. Aldasouqi that he had decided to get the tattoo on his own, without consulting with his physician first. He had it done at a professional tattoo parlor, where clean needles and tools were reportedly used.

Dr. Aldasouqi was surprised a few weeks later when he encountered a different patient – another well-educated, young man with long-standing type 1 diabetes – with a similar tattoo.

  • J0262851_max50


    about 5 years ago


    As a practicing nurse I can understand this doctors concern. However I live in a rural area where there is little emergancy care close by. We have become involved in several incidents where we have found drivers either unconcious or unable to give medical information and the county law enforcement officers have assumed the person was intoxicated and was arrested instead of given immed.medical attn., when in fact they had DM. If the patient had had a tattoo the pt would have received the medical help they need in a much more timely manner. One officer I spoke to said " I passed this car about 45 minutes ago and just thought the driver had pulled over." He had not stopped to check on the driver until 911 was called because the driver was confused and the car was still running and in gear.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    I love how they said "another well-educated, young man" as though only uneducated people get tattooed.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    I wonder why people did not think of this sooner! I think it would be so useful, especially in cases of finding unconscious people. Imagine those with long term steroid use, those with necessary medicines, anaphylactic allergies, diabetes etc. I think it is brilliant.

    And I am a well educated, intelligent woman that comes from an upper class background... I also have a small tattoo :-)

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 5 years ago

    I think that this is a great idea, if it is in a noticeable place.

  • Tara17th_max50


    over 5 years ago


    I love how the writer mentions in the first page of the article that an "educated young man" had the same solution - a if its a complete surprise that an educated person would have a *gasps* tattoo! Unthinkable! So what does that suppose to mean...that only dumb people get tattoos??? Hmmm LOL!

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