On Wednesday, October 9 the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved the use of a tiny computer chip, "VeriChip" for implantation in people. The little computer chip will be implanted into a person’s arm and will hold the patient’s medical history for doctors and hospitals.
Applied Digital Solutions out of Delray Beach, Fla., received the go ahead from the FDA to begin marketing the VeriChip. The computer chip would only be used for medical purposes and would be about the size of a grain of rice.
The procedure to insert the VeriChip would take approximately 20 minutes and would entail the chip to be inserted through a syringe. It would be inserted under the skin and wouldn’t require any stitches to close the incision.
Critics of using the computer chips argue that it would create new avenues to which the confidentiality of medical records could be compromised. However, the VeriChip is said to not contain the actual medical records.
Instead it would have codes that could be scanned and revealed in the doctor’s office or hospital. The code would allow health care providers to gain access to the portion of a secure database that is where the medical records would be stored.
Some the information that providers would be able to get access to would be any known allergies and prior treatments the patient had received. It would be the electronic database and not the computer chip that would updated after each medical visit.
Emily Stewart is a policy analyst at the Health Privacy Project. She has voiced her concerns over the use of the VeriChip. “If privacy protections aren’t built in at the outset, there could be harmful consequences for patients.”
It’s the possible other uses that have also raised a few red flags. Computer chips are already used and implanted in one million pets in order to assist families in locating their missing pets.
The computer chips could also be used to track and monitor a person’s movements and locations. Stewart went on to say that in order to protect someone’s medical information the computer chips should only include the most vital medical information.
Information such as allergies, blood type, information medical workers would need to ensure they could safely do their jobs on a patient they weren’t familiar.
David Ellis is an information technology guru at the Detroit Medical Center sees the benefits to the computer chip. He’s planning to lobby for his medical center to be included in the VeriChip pilot program.
Ellis said, “One of the big problems in health care has been the medical records situation. So much of it is still on paper. It’s part of the future of medicine to have these kinds of technologies that make life simpler for the patient.”
Of course he also believes that only the strongest encryption algorithms should be used in order to block hackers from obtaining the information.
Applied Digital Solutions’ chief executive officer, Scott R. Silverman is one of six executives who have actually had the computer chip implanted. Silverman sees more than just medical uses for the computer chip.
Silverman said it could also be used in employees of such secured facilities as nuclear power plants. The chips would allow the employees at these secure facilities to be tracked throughout the buildings.
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