Medical ID Jewelry Often Lacks Clear Instructions For Adrenal Insufficiency

Rushworth RL, et al. Clin Endocrinol. 2019;doi:10.1111/cen.13985.

Only 4.8% of patients with adrenal insufficiency who use medical identification jewelry clearly indicate on their emblem the need for urgent parenteral hydrocortisone in the event of an adrenal crisis, potentially jeopardizing the ability to receive proper assistance in an emergency, according to a cross-sectional analysis published in Clinical Endocrinology.

“Although the use of medical identification jewelry is recommended for patients with adrenal insufficiency to assist in the prevention and treatment of an adrenal crisis, the results of this study indicate that this advice is taken up by only a modest proportion of patients,” R. Louise Rushworth, MBBS, PhD, FAFPHM, an adjunct professor and medical epidemiologist at the School of Medicine, Sydney, and the University of Notre Dame Australia, told Endocrine Today. “Patients with secondary adrenal insufficiency have a lower uptake than those with primary adrenal insufficiency despite their risk of an adrenal crisis approaching that people with primary adrenal insufficiency.”

In a cross-sectional analysis, Rushworth and colleagues analyzed data from 1,955 patients with adrenal insufficiency aged at least 20 years with an active subscription to a large medical jewelry provider (MedicAlert) as of September 2018. The researchers calculated subscription rates by adrenal insufficiency subtype, geographic area, age and sex using relevant population data.

The overall subscription rate was 105.79 per million, representing approximately one-third of the estimated 300 per million patients with adrenal insufficiency in the population, according to researchers. Among subscribers, 57.4% had primary adrenal insufficiency and 15.1% had a diagnosis of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. The overall subscription rate for patients with primary adrenal insufficiency was 61.72 per million, or 61.7% of the approximately 100 per million patients with primary adrenal insufficiency in the Australian population, according to researchers.

Researchers observed considerable differences in subscription rates based on geographic region, patient age and sex. Western Australia had an overall subscription rate (247 per million) that was more than four times higher than Victoria, the state with the lowest subscription rate (60.87 per million; P < .0001). Patients aged 60 to 69 years had the highest subscription rate (165.15 per million), whereas patients aged 30 to 39 years had the lowest rate (47.23 per million; P < .001). Additionally, most subscribers reporting primary adrenal insufficiency were women (69%).

The researchers found that hydrocortisone was the most common replacement therapy (41.6%), followed by cortisone acetate (25.6%) and prednisone (16.3%). They noted that few patients — only 4.8% — clearly mentioned the need for urgent parenteral hydrocortisone in the event of severe illness.

Rushworth said most patients who used medical identification jewelry did not have clear emergency instructions inscribed on the emblem, and that this may lead to delays in administration of hydrocortisone in an emergency.

“Guidelines recommend that patients with adrenal insufficiency who are at risk for adrenal crisis should wear medical identification jewelry as a form of nonverbal communication in an emergency,” Rushworth said. “These should be recommended by the treating doctor, and adherence should be encouraged and reviewed regularly. The jewelry should be inscribed with clear instructions for emergency treatment, for example: ‘Adrenal insufficiency. Give IM 100 mg hydrocortisone.’” – by Regina Schaffer

From https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/adrenal/news/online/%7Be7eef183-09a5-46aa-96e1-1feb7c8f1e05%7D/medical-id-jewelry-often-lacks-clear-instructions-for-adrenal-insufficiency?page=2

Yes, You Need a Medical Alert Bracelet!

Shared with permission from https://aiunited.org/medicalbracelets/

Advice from a Volunteer Firefighter with Adrenal Insufficiency

My name is Jeannie, and I have been diagnosed with Secondary AI since March of 2015. To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma in Feb of 2015. It was apron 8mm x 10mm at the time wit was found. On April 25th, 2015 I was getting ready for work in the early morning hours.. I passed out in my bathroom and was immediately rushed to the hospital by my husband. They did a secondary MRI and found that the tumor had tripled in size to 23mm x almost 41mm. My Cortisol was also so low it was undetectable by the lab. I was taken by ambulance to Emory University hospital in Atlanta where the Neurosurgeon I had been in consult with was. I arrived there on Sunday and was in Surgery Wednesday Morning. The surgery took 9 hours and recovery was close to 6.

Prior to this all taking place I was a volunteer firefighter, and had worked EMS for almost 16 years. I have been in nearly every situation possible. I see so many people that have our condition asking about Medic Alert bracelets, What kind they should have, what it should say on it, etc. So I have put together a short list to help out a little bit. This is coming from both someone who has this extremely rare disease, and also from the Emergency Medical Side of me. Knowing what We as medics look for in the field, How quickly things move, what we ask or need to know, etc.

Please know that this IS NOT Professional Medical advice, But this is advice coming from someone who can shed some light on how to potentially save your life if you should ever be alone, or without anyone who knows your condition and you fall unconscious or are unable to the the responders what your condition is.

First off if you are looking for a medic alert bracelet or wondering if you should get one.

**The answer is yes, If you have been diagnosed ANY TYPE of adrenal insufficient or are on replacement medication.. YES. you need one.**

Here are some of those reasons and some pointers on what they should look like / what they should say.

#1– If you are found unconscious, and there are not bystanders around to tell emergency crews what is wrong with you, You will go longer without your steroids. If we see on your bracelet that you are steroid dependent, it dissolves the ENTIRE guessing game of why you’re unconscious.

#2– It should have on there your emergency contact and a GOOD telephone number. That way if nothing else. We can call them. NOT EVERY EMS AGENCY HAS ACCESS TO THE “CLOUD” BASED SYSTEMS THAT STORE YOUR INFO. Please be sure that if your emergency contacts number changes.. You change it on your bracelet. There is nothing worse than wasted time calling a number that doesn’t belong to the person we NEED to talk to.

#3– DO NOT MAKE IT “PRETTY” OR “NOT SO OBVIOUS”. I can not stress this enough. Ladies I know that you want the cute ones that look like normal bracelets, and have pretty charms, etc on them… THE ENTIRE point of a medical alert bracelet is that someone needs to see it and know that they should look at it. If it looks like a regular bracelet or regular necklace and it isn’t obvious within the first 3 seconds once we get to you and look in the obvious places (neck/wrist). it will NOT get seen. I promise you, we are too busy trying to play the guessing game of why you are not responding, than to take a look at every single piece of regular jewelry and see if it might have a really small inscribing of what is wrong with you. Once again. Make it noticeable. We will see that we need to look at it. Once we do. The guessing game is more than likely OVER. and we can begin to treat you appropriately.

#4– Most EMT’s and Paramedics Don’t Understand or know about Addisons or the treatment involved. If nothing else, carry a letter from your doctor explaining what is wrong with you, etc. It is very rare, and NOT covered in most Paramedic courses. So please, for those of you that put “ADRENAL INSUFFICIENT” on your bracelet and NOT “STEROID DEPENDENT” please keep in mind that you may end up with the Paramedic that just graduated, is nervous, and will mistake adrenal insufficiency for Adrenaline insufficiency.. and try to give you epinephrine. Please understand that I have seen this almost happen. It is something that is easily misunderstood in the heat of the moment.

#5– If you have an emergency injection that you carry with you all the time, on your person, or somewhere close. PUT ON THERE THAT YOU HAVE IT! MOST ems agencies have standing protocol that they can assist with emergency medications (Don’t jump in here if you are one of those states that doesn’t allow it.. I said most) That way if we find you down, and look at your bracelet, AND see that you have emergency meds with you… guess what now, not only is the guessing game over, You’re ALSO getting the RIGHT EMERGENCY MEDS, instead of us having to either give you what we carry, or you having to wait until you get to the ER and the ER doc has to go through your file and figure out that you need the medication that’s been in your pocketbook the ENTIRE TIME.If you are unsure if your state allows this, or if you Local EMS agency can do this. Contact their local medical control and ask. If they do, Please offer to give a small talk on what the disease is and how to use the emergency kit. Most will know once they see the acto-vial, but if they do not, Please educate them. Explain to them that it can be the only thing that could save your life.

Please take the time and make sure that you have correct information on your bracelet. Secondary or Primary, the treatment in an Emergency situation is the same. So there is NO need for you to spell out if you are secondary or primary. Both get the emergency injection in case of a crisis. Both get fluid bolus, heart and blood pressure monitoring. Nothing is different when it comes to an emergency situation. If you have any questions on the wording or what to get on it. Be sure you at least have an emergency contact, That you are steroid dependent, and where your emergency injection is located.

IF you know that your local EMS agency uses the “cloud” for stored emergency info, you can spend the money to get it. But I worked for service that covered a county with over 100 sq miles, and we didn’t use it. It is unreliable and takes too much time to log in to the system, try to read the small number on your band, type it in, etc. When you can simply put the information on the band itself.

If you have any other further questions, You can refer to AIU’s emergency page.

Adrenal Insufficiency Patients Require More Education on Adrenal Crisis

adrenalcrisispathway

Greater efforts to educate patients with adrenal insufficiency and their families about prevention of adrenal crisis may be necessary, according to data presented at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 24th Annual Scientific & Clinical Congress.

Additionally, the researchers, who looked at patients treated for adrenal insufficiency, found that many are not being adequately trained or equipped to deal with an adrenal crisis.

“These patients can crash and we are not doing enough to help prevent problems,” study investigator Nitika Malhotra, MD, endocrinologist in Lansing, Michigan, said. “We did this study because we think this is a big problem.”

Malhotra, who presented the study findings at the meeting, explained that patients with adrenal insufficiency are at risk for developing adrenal crisis, and it is now estimated that 8% of patients with adrenal insufficiency are hospitalized for adrenal crisis each year.

The problem, according to Malhotra, is that far too many patients are failing to receive crises prevention education. Moreover, they are not receiving emergency glucocorticoid kits.

“All of the families need to be taught and that is not happening,” Malhotra said in an interview with Endocrinology Advisor. “It will reduce the morbidity and mortality and the hospitalization, and it may improve the quality of life of patients too.”

For their study, Malhotra and her colleagues collected data from patients with adrenal insufficiency who were seen at a single institution between March 2009 and March 2014.

The investigators conducted a retrospective chart review and examined age, gender, causes of adrenal insufficiency, glucocorticoid dose, and monitoring for hyponatremia and hyperkalemia. They also looked at postural blood pressure, crises prevention education for glucocorticoid dose adjustments during stress, and whether patients had a Medic Alert ID or a parenteral glucocorticoid kit.

The researchers identified 85 patients (29 males and 56 females) with adrenal insufficiency. Of these patients, 33 patients had primary adrenal insufficiency (38.8%) and 52 had secondary adrenal insufficiency (61.2%). The mean age of the patients was 55.8 years.

Among the 85 patients, 23 (27%) had postural blood pressures checked — five of whom were positive (21.7%). Seventy-seven patients (90.6%) were monitored for electrolytes, and 41 patients (48.2%) were on steroid doses above 20 mg per day.

However, the researchers found that only 57 patients (67.1%) had received steroid dose adjustment instructions. In addition, only 29 patients (34.1%) had a Medic Alert ID, and only 17 patients (20%) were setup with emergency parenteral glucocorticoid kits.

Even though this study has many inherent limitations, Malhotra said, it appears that the preventive strategies for adrenal crisis in patients with adrenal insufficiency are not being consistently followed.

Patient education is paramount for achieving a successful prevention strategy for adrenal crisis, and endocrinologists have a responsibility to make sure that all patients with adrenal insufficiency have a Medic Alert ID and access to emergency glucocorticoid kits, according to Malhotra.

Furthermore, she said families should receive adequate education about parenteral steroid administration and steroid dose adjustments in stressful situations.

At her institution, Malhotra said, endocrinologists are introducing an automated electronic alert in their electronic medical records to determine if this electronic prompt will improve adherence.

Reference

  1. Malhotra N et al. Abstract #102. Presented at: American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 24th Annual Scientific & Clinical Congress; May 13-17, 2015; Nashville, Tenn.

 

From http://www.endocrinologyadvisor.com/aace-2015/adrenal-crisis-in-adrenal-insufficiency/article/415123/

Medic Alert Bracelets

This was posted today on Facebook from Jeannie Middlebrooks, an EMS provider.  She says “Anyone can message me with questions too!”
I have seen alot of people recently asking for advice as to what to put on their Medic Alert Bracelets, What Kind to buy, etc.
The most common things I see are that bracelets are being bought that look like “normal jewelry” because they don’t want it to stick out.
The other thing is that they are putting the IMPORTANT information on the BACK of the bracelet
Guys I have been in EMS 16 years, and recently Diagnosed SAI this past april. so I have a few things to say on this subject. You can take it for what it’s worth, but please understand this is coming from someone who lives in the heat of the moment taking care of people like us when that moment counts.. When we find an unconscious patient we have several things that we are attempting to do to save that patient, granted looking for a medic alert tag is important, but it is not more important that keeping a compromised airway open, checking vitals, getting an IV, asking family for a history, etc. Looking for a medic alert is usually done en route to the hospital if it is not blatantly obvious upon arrival.
#1 Anything that looks pictures I have posted below, I can 100% promise you, will be looked over in the heat of the moment if you are unconscious. Your family will more than likely be on edge and forget to tell us, or you will be by yourself and no one will know to tell us to look. It looks like standard jewelry.. so I’m not going to look at it.. therefore missing your life threatening emergency.. and if I am one of MILLIONS of first responders that are unfamiliar with Adrenal Insufficiency, I will NOT recognize the signs and symptoms, and you will NOT get the care you need pre-hospital.. leaving your body without the necessary cortisol for that much longer.
#2- If you place your Pertinent information on the back of your bracelet, PLEASE make sure that the medic alert symbol is on the front of the bracelet, BIG AND RED… don’t make it small and pink, or the same color as the bracelet.. yet again. we will overlook it in the moment..
#3- Necklaces are a bad idea.. They almost always get tucked into a shirt, and we almost NEVER see them. they are easily moved.
#4- Your medic alert tag should have your name. What you Suffer From, That you are Steroid Dependant. Where your Injection Kit is location (if applicable), Instructions to give the meds or you will die.. (This alerts bystanders to give you the injection as well.. I can say this because I had a bystander do it based solely on my Medic Alert tag.. she found it, drew it up, and gave it to me), and an emergency contact who can give responders information they need. If you have more than one Critical condition. List the most life threatening in order.
Please Please Please don’t take this post the wrong way. I am saying all of this coming from someone who lives in these moments every day. I know how many first responders are not familiar with the disease that can so easily kill us, and if you are willing to risk your life for the sake of a “pretty” bracelet, then I can’t stop you.. nor can anyone here.. Just know that it is a HUGE risk…

Remaining calm = Reducing illness

Have you ever noticed that when you are “stressed” you can feel either emotionally/physically depleted or energized?  When our body is under stress the brain responds by producing epheniphrine or adrenaline, sending signals to our adrenal glands, increasing the rate at which our heart beats while releasing oxygen to our muscles.  The long term response to this process produces cortisol (aka the stress hormone) facilitating the release of energy throughout our body.  However, when our body isn’t properly balanced these hormones can wreak havoc on our wellness possibly resulting in one of three conditions:  Cushing’s syndrome, Cushing’s disease or Addison’s disease.

adrenal-glandsThe actual Adrenal glands sit physically atop both kidneys, taking on a triangular shape and a roundish rectangular type shape.  These glands are responsible for our sex hormones and cortisol, helping us respond to stress amongst other functions.  When our body is under stress, physically and/or nutritionally, it responds one of two ways:  Produces too much or too little of the cortisol hormone.  Our Adrenal glands also contribute to regulating our blood sugar, blood pressure, salt and water.

Adrenal disorders can cause our body to make too much or not enough of these hormones, bringing about adrenal gland related syndromes and disease.  Cushing’s syndrome results from our body making too much versus Addison’s disease produces too little.

Cushing’s syndrome vs. Cushing’s disease

Glucocorticoids (naturally produced in our body or received through medicine) are groups of corticosteroids (cortisol or dexamethasone) involved in metabolizing our carbohydrate and protein.  When taken synthetically (i.e. treatment of allergies, skin problems, and respiratory problems) or over-produced naturally, the side effects can result in “Cushing’s syndrome”.

Cushing’s syndrome can occur one of two ways:  Endogenous or Exogenous.  Endogenous is caused by the body (usually through tumors).  Exogenous is caused by medication.  In both cases, the body produces too much cortisol.

Symptoms: Severe fatigue/muscle weakness, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, upper body obesity, thin arms/legs, bruising easily

Treatment:  The cure and treatment for Cushing’s disease can come through medicine, surgery, or by lowering the dosage of your current synthetic hormone treatment.  Cushing’s syndrome can be cured.

Cushing’s disease is the most common form of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome and is likely treatable.  Caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland secreting too much Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), this type of tumor does not spread and can be removed through surgery.

Nutrition:  See a nutritionist or dietician for your condition.  Mostly, avoid excess sodium.  High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and high blood pressure can easily occur with this condition.  Bone loss density is common with this condition, so be extra aware of your calcium (800 – 1200 mg per day, based upon age) and Vitamin D intake (5mcg from age 0-50, increasing up to 10 mcg 50-71, and 15 mcg after 71).  Eating healthy, balanced and whole food (versus processed) is extremely important.

(Resource:  http://www.aboutcushings.com/understanding-cushings-disease/causes-and-differences.jsp)

Addison’s disease

Opposite from Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease doesn’t make “enough” of the sex hormones and cortisol.  The result of this disease causes our immune system to attack our tissue, damaging our adrenal glands.

Symptoms:  Weight loss, muscle weakness, increasingly worse fatigue, low blood pressure and patchy or dark skin.

Treatment:  If left untreated, the condition can be fatal.  Lifetime hormone treatment is usually required. Addison disease patients should always carry medical/emergency ID on them, listing their medication, dosage and disease

Lab tests can confirm that you have Addison’s disease. If you don’t treat it, it can be fatal. You will need to take hormone pills for the rest of your life. If you have Addison’s disease, you should carry an emergency ID. It should say that you have the disease, list your medicines and say how much you need in an emergency.”

(Ref: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/cushingssyndrome.html, NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Learning how to balance our stress-filled lives is extremely important to our overall health.  Healthy nutrition always contributes benefits to our overall wellness.  We can overwhelm our endocrine system by simply not eating nutritionally.  Understanding that “Food is a drug” is vitally important to how we help our body naturally heal itself.  The above two conditions are the result of our body not handling the stress we are putting it through, causing our body to producing too much or too little of the sex hormones and cortisol.

Unless we first address what we can do naturally through nutrition, the medicine we consume will only do so much in helping our body heal completely.  You simply cannot continue doing the same thing over and over again, expecting the medicine to do all the work.  Some diseases are brought upon us through our environment (emotionally as well as physically) as well as our diet/nutrition.  Reviewing our entire wellness is always wisdom whenever we’re diagnosed with anything.

Certainly listen to your doctor and their advice.  But also ask your doctor to refer you to a nutritionist or clinical/registered dietician for a complete evaluation that includes a review of your nutritional diet/wellness.  Too often we reach for a pill or a procedure to “fix” our health problems, ignoring what we should be doing on our own to help our body heal.  Medical intervention is the result of providing our body with what it cannot produce on its own.  Nutrition should always be the “natural” medicine we take, as well as what we might need through prescribed medication.

Adapted from (Spelling errors corrected) http://hamptonroads.com/2013/10/remaining-calm-reducing-illness

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