We Can But Should We?
How far is going too far? Imagine a world where an individual’s complete and accurate medical history can be accessed and updated by simply scanning a microchip or radio frequency identification device (RFID) that is implanted into the body. Envision a patient arriving at point-of-care; the chip that is embedding into the patient’s body would be scanned to upload the patients’ health information into the providers’ health information system (HIS). During this encounter, new information would be stored in the HIS. When the patient is discharged, the patient’s up-to-date health information would be uploaded from the HIS to the patients’ microchip. Implanting an electronic health record into every U.S. citizen has its pros and cons; the question contemplated is “We Can But Should We”?
Radio Frequency Identification Device Technology
The Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (2012) defines RFID as a universal term that is used to describe a system that transmits the identity of an object or person wirelessly, using radio waves. The function of an RFID system is to enable data to be transmitted by a portable device, called a tag, which is read by an RFID reader and processed according to the needs of a particular application (Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility, 2012). RFID tags are a small object that can be implanted or attached into products (clothing, shoes ect.), humans, or animals that enable storing and retrieving data possible. With no physical contact required, this type of data can be collected and read through clothing, the human body, and non-metallic materials. In recent years, RFID tags have been used in identifying animals for health or nonhealth reasons. Foster and Jaeger (2008) stated that the VeriChip Corporation is promoting its system, called VeriMed, for patients who might present to healthcare facilities unresponsive or unable to provide identification; for example, patients with severe mental illness or Alzheimer’s disease (p. 45).
One benefit of the RFID is direct and accurate access to patients’ electronic health record (EHR) which includes: “demographics, progress notes, problems, and medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data, and radiology reports” (Healthcare Information and Management Systems, 2012). Being able to securely access patient clinical information would enhance the safety of patient care by reducing adverse drug events and other medical errors. It would also augment efficiency within the healthcare system by integrating current clinical information, communications systems, laboratory databases, and pharmacy systems. In the event of a mass trauma, the VeriChip would be an excellent apparatus to track, treat, and identify victims. Sade (2007) stated that the devices are approximately the size of a grain of rice, and are implanted under the skin via a hypodermic-type needle in less than one...