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A toe tag is a simple piece of cardboard that is usually placed on the big toe of a deceased patient with a string. While these devices are simple, they serve a crucial purpose. They are extremely helpful in identifying the body of the deceased. They allow the coroner, mortician, law enforcement, and any other official involved in the death process to properly identify the body. A toe tag will usually have the name of the deceased, the case number if law enforcement is involved, and any other descriptors needed, such as hair color, height, weight, and eye color.
There is evidence that in ancient Egypt toe tags were used to help properly identify their dead. There is also evidence of toe tags being used during the bubonic plague. The bubonic plague was one of the most horrendous pandemics in our history. It is estimated that it caused the deaths of approximately 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia and reached its apex between 1347 to 1351 in Europe. The high volume of deaths during this time highlights the importance of being able to properly identify the dead and know how to properly handle each and every deceased person’s body.
The simple invention of the toe tag has been around for ages, but it still shows its value today. There have been a few changes and modifications here and there, but, for the most part, this invention has remained constant throughout its use. There may be times when the tag is now placed on the wrist or the ankle, but it still dictates the same type of information as it always has. It may be interesting to see what the future holds for the toe tag.