Magazine article Information Management

FDA Okays Implanted Chip for Health Care

Magazine article Information Management

FDA Okays Implanted Chip for Health Care

Article excerpt

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved an implantable computer chip that can pass along a patient's medical details to doctors, providing easy access to individual medical records.

Applied Digital Solutions, which manufactures VeriChips, radio frequency identification (RFID) microchips the size of a grain of rice, have already been used to identify lost pets and livestock. But this marks the first time the FDA has approved the use of the device in humans for medical purposes.

The microchip is inserted under the skin of the arm or hand with a syringe in a procedure that takes less than 20 minutes and leaves no visible marks. The dormant chip stores a code similar to a UPC code on products sold in retail stores. At a doctor's office, unique16-digit codes are stamped onto chips. Emergency-room personnel and ambulance crews equipped with handheld radio scanners would be able to read the number on the chip. When a scanner passes over a chip, its code reveals patient-specific information such as known allergies, blood type, and prior treatments. The chip does not contain any records, but with the identifying number, healthcare providers would be able to retrieve critical medical data stored in computers. The records could be easily updated.

In Mexico, more than 1,000s scannable chips have been implanted in patients. The chip's serial number pulls up the patients' blood type and other medical information. But the chips can be used for more than just medical purposes. Mexico's attorney general and nearly 200 people working in his office have been implanted with chips so they can access secure areas containing sensitive documents related to Mexico's drug cartels. Similarly, British company Surge IT Solutions recently signed an agreement with VeriChip to use the technology to control access to government facilities.

Club-goers in Barcelona, Spain, now use a similar chip like a smart card to speed their drink orders and payments. About 50 patrons of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona have had the chip implanted so they wouldn't have to carry around identification and credit cards.

Applied Digital Solutions has tried to deflect privacy concerns by arguing that the implantation of chips is voluntary and the only records linked to a VeriChip will be those authorized by the person with the chip. …

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