Paramedics use QR codes to save lives

Ambulance
Image: ibison4 CC-NC-SA

QR codes are often used for advertisements, with companies providing URLs, further details, and little bonuses for customers scanning them. Recently the codes were also used in Monmouth as part of a project to create the first “wikipedia town“.Now paramedics in Marin County, California are using QR codes to try to save lives. A pilot project is asking residents to enter their medical data into a web site, which then produces a corresponding QR code to be attached to the owner’s clothes or possessions. During an emergency paramedics and fire fighters can scan the codes with a smart phone and have instant access to the victim’s medical history.

This information could be potentially life saving, particularly if the victim has a history of serious medical problems, takes medication which may interact with other drugs, or is allergic to any drugs.

Marin County is also planning to upgrade it’s current electronic medical records (EMR) system to work with the QR code system. Potentially the QR code could eventually contain just a unique identifier which acts as reference to a primary key in a centralised medical database.

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