A real MedicAlert …

An open letter from Murray Lord, CEO of MedicAlert NZ

“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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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.