Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Medical Informatics: Implantable RF Microchips

The Washington Post reports on the approval by the FDA of the use of implantable radio-frequency microchips for medical information applications. As the article suggests, some neurological patients may fall within the targeted applications of this product.
FDA Approves Implantable Chip for Medical Records
By Diedtra Henderson
AP Science Writer
Wednesday, October 13, 2004; 2:05 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved an implantable computer chip that can pass a patient's medical details to doctors, speeding care.

VeriChips, radio frequency microchips the size of a grain of rice, have already been used to identify wayward pets and livestock. And nearly 200 people working in Mexico's attorney general's office have been implanted with chips to access secure areas containing sensitive documents.

Delray Beach, Fla.-based Applied Digital Solutions said it would give away $650 scanners to roughly 200 trauma centers around the nation to help speed its entry into the health care market.

A company spokesman would not say how much implanting chips would cost for humans, even though chips have been implanted in some, including Scott R. Silverman, the company's chief executive officer.

The company is targeting patients with diabetes, chronic cardiac conditions, Alzheimer's disease and those who undergo complex treatments like chemotherapy, said Dr. Richard Seelig, Applied Digital Solutions' vice president of medical applications.
[snip]
With the pinch of a syringe, the microchip is inserted under the skin in a procedure that takes less than 20 minutes and leaves no stitches.

Silently and invisibly, the dormant chip stores a code -- similar to the identifying UPC code on products sold in retail stores -- that releases patient-specific information when a scanner passes over the chip.

At the doctor's office those codes stamped onto chips, once scanned, would reveal such information as a patient's allergies and prior treatments.
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