Nine People Receive First Implantable Identification Chips
Nine people last Friday became the first humans to have identity chips, which could give health care providers access to medical information in an emergency, implanted beneath the skin in their upper arms, the Miami Herald reports. Manufactured by Palm Beach, Fla.-based Applied Digital Solutions Inc., the VeriChip device is about the size of a grain of rice and contains an identification number that is connected to a secure, online database containing medical information. Hospitals and emergency care facilities need to have a scanner, also manufactured by ADS, to read the ID numbers. ADS is charging $200 for the chip, and scanners will cost hospitals between $1,000 and $1,500, although the company said it will initially donate scanners to certain medical facilities. ADS President Scott Silverman said that he expects that within two to three years, that the chip will be "standard protocol" for emergency room staff to identify uncommunicative patients (Garcia, Miami Herald, 5/11). The company said that the chips may eventually replace medical identification bracelets. But some critics of the chip question whether it will be useful or efficient in identifying patients (Armshaw, Reuters/Boston Globe, 5/11). Currently, no hospitals or ambulances are equipped with the scanners (Singer, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 5/10). In April, the FDA said that it would not regulate the implant because it only contains an identification number, not actual medical data (AP/New York Times, 5/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.