In October the Food and Drug Administration approved the implantation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags into humans. According to VeriChip Corp., a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions Inc., the 134.2-KHz chips could save lives and possibly limit injuries from errors in medical treatments.
It is believed the chips could provide easy access to medical information for individuals with life-threatening diseases, and could be specifically useful during a medical emergency. The chips are expected to give people the ability to know and manage their health-care issues at the very critical time of an emergency situation.
RFID tags have the ability to store a wide range of information, from one serial number to several pages of data. Readers can either be mobile, so that they can be carried by hand, or they can be mounted on a stationary or mobile object. Reader systems can also be built into the architecture of a cabinet, room or building.
The FDA is not aware of any adverse events associated with RFID tags. However, there is a concern about the potential hazard of electromagnetic interference (EMI) to electronic medical devices from radio frequency transmitters like RFID. EMI is a degradation of the performance of equipment or systems (such as medical devices) caused by an electromagnetic disturbance.
Since the technology continues to evolve and is more widely used, it is important for healthcare professionals to keep in mind its potential for interfering with pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), and other electronic medical devices.
Other important uses for human RFID implants are child abductions. Many parents agree with implanting RFID chips in their children so that if the child was ever adducted, law officers would be able to track them and locate them much quicker than they can now.
Another application is for key political kidnappings, which is along the same lines as the theory of child abductions. There is also discussion about tracking prison inmates and parolees, to effectively locate and monitor them.
Most of the opponents to human RFID implantation in the case of medical records is the belief that anyone would have access to all of your medical records if they had an RFID reader. This isn’t true because the chip implanted in the person would only contain a serial number that would need to be entered into a secure website before any records or medical history for an individual could be accessed.
Whether you agree with the technology or not, RFID chips are the future of identification and traceability. It’s not a perfect technology at this point, but no technology ever was or will be perfect in the beginning, or ever for that matter. The point is it will be what we make of it.