Health News Horrors

Here's a roundup of the health news that made us stop, spit out our coffee, and read twice.

By Teresa Dumain from Reader's Digest Magazine | June 2012

Health News HorrorsIllustration by David Pohl
Horror Headline: Old Folks Send Message With Emergency Tattoos

Bet you’ll never guess what 81-year-old Joy Tomkins of Norfolk, England, has tattooed over her heart in big blue capital letters: “DO NOT RESUSCITATE.” Kansas City pathologist Ed Friedlander, MD, has “No CPR” front and center on his chest. Melissa Boyer of Nashville, Michigan, got a tattoo that declares her a type 1 diabetic with allergies to penicillin and aspirin.

But here’s the rub: The markings don’t carry much medical weight. “Unless there’s strong supporting information, such as a legal document stating otherwise, we would begin lifesaving treatment, regardless of a tattoo,” says David Ross, DO, an emergency physician with the Penrose–St. Francis health system in Colo­rado and spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians. Though emergency responders may take into account tattoo alerts of allergies or diseases, they wouldn’t serve as complete medical background.

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