May 24, 2007 1:19 pm US/Eastern
S. FLA. ALZHEIMER'S CENTER
TO MICROCHIP PATIENTS
VeriChip Is Only Company Approved To Implant Chips In People
Chips Provide Access To Patient's Medical History
PALM BEACH A popular identification system for lost animals, called a microchip implant, has proven to be quite popular with
pet owners, but now plans by a West Palm Beach Alzheimer’s care center to place microchips into its patients are drawing
a bit of controversy.
The Alzheimer’s Community
Care Center is launching a trial
program that could help families that are caring for an elderly parent or loved one.
The center is implanting 200-patients
with a tiny microchip, made by VeriChip. The chip lies dormant without a battery or a power source. It’s encoded with
a 16-digit identification number that can be scanned and entered into a computer to access a patient’s medical history.
this type of ID and having this type of technology to get the kind of assistance they need right away can be lifesaving. Our
patients are so fragile and vulnerable," said the CEO of Alzheimer's Community Care Mary Barnes.
She emphasized, “No
personal information is stored on the microchip. Individuals who choose to participate in this project will have signed informed
consents by the patient or legal authorized representative.”
In addition, she said, no person will receive the
VeriMed microchip without the involvement of a physician. She noted that the program is free and offered on a voluntary basis.
not everyone agrees with the use of the microchip, which is the same kind of chip used to identify pets when they are lost.
Katherine Albrecht, founder of the consumer privacy group, CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering)
has already held a protest outside the Alzheimer’s Community Care center. She also has a web site that lists objections
to the microchip.
Albrecht said this technology is not necessary. For years, she said hospital patients and those with
certain allergies or medical conditions have been wearing bracelets or other types of identification to point out their maladies.
are many who question the ethics of conducting medical research on mentally impaired individuals because Alzheimer’s
patients cannot understand the risks associated with being micro chipped and therefore cannot give fully informed consent.
compares the large-scale chip implantation plans to an assembly line that would render elderly patients scannable "like bar-coded
packages of meat," adding that the societal implications of such a move would be chilling.
The VeriChip Corporation
emphasizes that its chip, which was approved for use in October 2004, should always be strictly voluntary. VeriChip is the
only company with U.S. federal approval
to implant such chips in people. The company has implanted more than 2,500 people worldwide.
According to the FDA,
risks associated with the VeriChip include MRI incompatibility, electrical hazard, and adverse tissue reaction, to name just
In February, a Cincinnati surveillance equipment company became the first U.S. business to allow employees to get chip implants to enter
secure rooms. Some employees in the Mexico
attorney general's office have also been implanted with chips for this use.