October 20th, 2004 06:38 PM
FDA approves computer chip for humans
WASHINGTON - Medical milestone or privacy invasion? A tiny computer chip approved Wednesday for implantation in a patientís arm can speed vital information about a patientís medical history to doctors and hospitals. But critics warn that it could open new ways to imperil the confidentiality of medical records.
The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that Applied Digital Solutions of Delray Beach, Fla., could market the VeriChip, an implantable computer chip about the size of a grain of rice, for medical purposes.
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 that releases patient-specific information when a scanner passes over it.
Think UPC code. The identifier, emblazoned on a food item, brings up its name and price on the cashierís screen.
Chip\'s dual uses raise alarm
The VeriChip itself contains no medical records, just codes that can be scanned, and revealed, in a doctorís office or hospital. With that code, the health providers can unlock that portion of a secure database that holds that personís medical information, including allergies and prior treatment. The electronic database, not the chip, would be updated with each medical visit.
The microchips have already been implanted in 1 million pets. But the chipís possible dual use for tracking peopleís movements ó as well as speeding delivery of their medical information to emergency rooms ó has raised alarm.
ďIf privacy protections arenít built in at the outset, there could be harmful consequences for patients,Ē said Emily Stewart, a policy analyst at the Health Privacy Project.
To protect patient privacy, the devices should reveal only vital medical information, like blood type and allergic reactions, needed for health care workers to do their jobs, Stewart said.
An information technology guru at Detroit Medical Center, however, sees the benefits of the devices and will lobby for his centerís inclusion in a VeriChip pilot program.
ďOne of the big problems in health care has been the medical records situation. So much of it is still on paper,Ē said David Ellis, the centerís chief futurist and co-founder of the Michigan Electronic Medical Records Initiative.
\'Part of the future of medicine\'
As ďmedically mobileĒ patients visit specialists for care, their records fragment on computer systems that donít talk to each other.
ďItís part of the future of medicine to have these kinds of technologies that make life simpler for the patient,Ē Ellis said. Pushing for the strongest encryption algorithms to ensure hackers canít nab medical data as information transfers from chip to reader to secure database, will help address privacy concerns, he said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday announced $139 million in grants to help make real President Bushís push for electronic health records for most Americans within a decade.
William A. Pierce, an HHS spokesman, could not say whether VeriChip and its accompanying secure database of medical records fit within that initiative.
ďExactly what those technologies are is still to be sorted out,Ē Pierce said. ďIt all has to respect and comport with the privacy rules.Ē
Applied Digital gave away scanners to a few hundred animal shelters and veterinary clinics when it first entered the pet market 15 years ago. Now, 50,000 such scanners have been sold.
To kickstart the chipís use among humans, Applied Digital will provide $650 scanners for free at 200 of the nationís trauma centers.
Implantation costs $150 to $200
In pets, installing the chip runs about $50. For humans, the chip implantation cost would be $150 to $200, said Angela Fulcher, an Applied Digital spokeswoman.
Fulcher could not say whether the cost of data storage and encrypted transmission of medical information would be passed to providers.
Because the VeriChip is invisible, itís also unclear how health care workers would know which unconscious patients to scan. Company officials say if the chip use becomes routine, scanning triceps for hidden chips would become second nature at hospitals.
Ultimately, the company hopes patients who suffer from such ailments as diabetes and Alzheimerís or who undergo complex treatments, like chemotherapy, would have chips implanted. If the procedure proves as popular for use in humans as in pets, that could mean up to 1 million chips implanted in people. So far, just 1,000 people across the globe have had the devices implanted, very few of them in the United States.
The companyís chief executive officer, Scott R. Silverman, is one of a half dozen executives who had chips implanted. Silverman said chips implanted for medical uses could also be used for security purposes, like tracking employee movement through nuclear power plants.
Such security uses are rare in the United States.
Meanwhile, the chip has been used for pure whimsy: Club hoppers in Barcelona, Spain, now use the microchip to enter a VIP area and, through links to a different database, speed payment much like a smartcard.
December 19th, 2004 07:29 PM
I think that is really scary.
December 20th, 2004 12:03 PM
I think ill pass. Told mom and pops about this at dinner yesterday and we were discussing it and mom said it sounds like what the Bible talks about with the mark of the beast except our own goverment was gonna want us to do it ...
To whacked out for me but ive als hear animals have had the chips for tracking for years in some states and i mean pets not wild ones..
Again ill pass i wasnt born with it in me i dont want it added on.
December 21st, 2004 05:03 PM
Here\'s the tactic. First it\'s a great way to id your pet. Then it\'s a great way to give your medical history when you are unconcious. Poeple like me with a chronic terminal illness should appreciate this, for the wrong treatment could end me quicker than the illness.
Here\'s another tactic. Chip the criminals. You know the bad ones first, murderers, rapists and child molesters et al. Then chip all criminals. Next chip grandma and grandpa in case they get alzheimers and wander off. Then you chip the children so they have to be scanned to go to school etc. This helps find missing children etc.
Isn\'t all that great? Also when you get chipped you won\'t have to carry id or money/credit cards. You\'ll just walk through scanners to pay for purchases. The police or anyone else who needs id will simply scan you. It will make security screening at airports easier for travelers. Voting checks, jury duty, medical insurance everything can be done this way.
Isn\'t all that great. Applied Digital even got the Catholic Church to come out with a statement that this is not the \"Mark of the Beast\".;)
It\'s the unintended consequences I\'m concerned about.:o
December 21st, 2004 06:29 PM
\"No sir, you may not enter the store if your VeriChip will not scan on the scantron - you might be Al-Quida! No, sir, I will not believe you do not have one! You have to have a VeriChip, or you are not allowed to shop at the stores, or the mall, or access a car ignition, or, unlikely as it may be, have access to any weapons of any kind! You have a \"pocket knife\"? Sir, I am sorry, but I must immobilize you with this instahard foam, because I just alerted the Gestapo with my implant - you ARE Al-Quida, and will die for your crimes tonight on live TV. Have a nice day, terrorist. Stop calling on this \'God\', it offends me......\"
December 22nd, 2004 09:19 PM
Oh geesh! Let me see now... I get a scanner and go out collecting medical information on folks with micro implants cause, well ****, I don\'t have a life and it must be more fun than going to the range and plugging 500 rds outta my Kimber into that piece o **** paper Osama......not!
December 23rd, 2004 02:01 AM
That\'s the last straw, I\'m stocking up on tin foil.
December 23rd, 2004 03:24 PM
Ya, but which way do you wear it? Shiney side out, in or both?:D
Originally posted by clubsoda22
That\'s the last straw, I\'m stocking up on tin foil.
Being a technology guy I htink this is some cool stuff. I just have to think like an evil doer and see what the unintended consequences may be. I\'m coming up with some not to pleasant ones.
December 25th, 2004 04:38 AM
Well, they aren\'t putting one of those in me. :O
December 25th, 2004 07:33 AM
These things are very scarry. I will be very dead before one of these will go in my arm. While they could be used for many good things(all listed above). I will not let any one or any government agency track me just because \"they can\".
When will the sheeple wake up? Much too late i guess.
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