Wristbands raise worries at some hospitals

Bright wristbands could be confused

The Lance Armstrong Foundation, which funds programs that assist people living with cancer, has become known for its bright yellow elastic LIVESTRONG wristbands. But the Morton Plant Mease Health Care hospitals in Florida recently voiced concerns that the LIVESTRONG bracelet on a patient’s arm could be confused with the yellow plastic bracelets the hospitals use to indicate a patient has opted for do-not-resuscitate status.

Morton Plant Mease administrators released a statement in January reassuring the public that no mix-ups had occurred, but cautioned that patients might want to remove the LIVESTRONG bands or cover them with white tape should they come to the hospital, just in case. The hospital bracelets are made of plastic, while the Armstrong bracelets are elastic bands.

The Armstrong Foundation was not providing comment on the issue of the potential for mix-up, but foundation spokeswoman Michelle Milford says the publicity "needlessly scared LIVESTRONG wristband wearers."

"It is a small controversy, but we have received several e-mails about it, nonetheless," she explains.

The Armstrong Foundation has sold more than 30 million of the $1 wristbands. Lance Armstrong fans are aware yellow is the color of the leader’s jersey during the Tour de France bicycle race, and many cancer patients draw inspiration from the personal cancer battle he waged a few years ago.

The Morton Plant Pease hospitals emphasized their support for the Lance Armstrong Foundation while advising their communities about the hospitals’ use of the same color wristbands.

A rainbow of colors

The LIVESTRONG bands have spawned dozens of emulators, touting charities, political causes (such as tort reform), or just making fashion statements. The wristbands can be found in every color of the rainbow — including rainbow-colored bands.

Because a good idea bears repeating, other hospitals besides the Morton Plant Pease hospitals use colored wristbands to indicate allergies, physical conditions, and do-not-resuscitate status, among others.


  • Michelle Milford, The Lance Armstrong Foundation, P.O. Box 161150, Austin, TX 78716. E-mail: michelle.milford@laf.org.