CHIPS WITH MEDICAL RECORDS
TO BE IMPLANTED IN 280 PATIENTS
By Theresa Agovino
The Associated Press
posted: 15 July 2006
NEW YORK (AP)—In a new
test program, Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey plans to implant patients suffering from chronic diseases with
a microchip that will give emergency room staff access to their medical information and help avoid costly or serious medical
errors, the insurer said on Friday.
Horizon plans to announce on Monday that it is teaming up with Hackensack
University Medical Center
in a pilot program where 280 patients regularly treated at the hospital will be implanted with a chip containing a code. The
chip would allow emergency room personnel to retrieve a patient's medical record if the individual can't communicate.
The rice-sized microchip is implanted in a patient's right arm above
the elbow and can be detected using equipment at the hospital.
The hope is that the chips will help doctors avoid medical errors like
duplicating medical tests, dangerous drug interactions and bad diagnoses.
Within the next 30 days, Horizon will start sending letters to patients
with chronic diseases explaining the new program and inviting them to participate. The program is voluntary and won't cost
the patient any money to participate.
Patients with chronic conditions are the program's target because they
are more likely to have serious medical problems that could leave them unable to communicate when they are at the emergency
room, said Dr. Richard Popiel, vice president and chief medical officer at Horizon. For example, diabetics with low blood
sugar may become confused or unconscious.
He said Horizon will test the program for two years
to see if it warrants expansion.
VeriChip Corp. makes the
chips and detection equipment. Hackensack already had the
equipment because it was part of VeriChip's development program.