A radio frequency identification, or RFID, device will be implanted under the skin of patients with chronic conditions who participate in a two-year program involving Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center, Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey and VeriChip Corp., Delray Beach, Fla. Horizon plans to offer the chip to about 600 patients. About 300 patients are expected to participate. The chip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, can provide hospital emergency departments access to contact information, drug and allergy history, and advance directives and living wills. Participating patients will determine what information will be available. The RFID device will transmit a 16-digit number to a hand-held scanner; the number then can be used to access VeriChip records on the patient. VeriChip said 110 U.S. hospitals -- primarily in Boston, the District of Columbia, Florida and New Jersey -- have registered to use the system. About 120 individuals so far have received the chip for medical purposes. The company is targeting organ-transplant recipients and patients with Alzheimer's disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes or epilepsy. -- by Andis Robeznieks
N.J. hospital, Blues plan to test RFID implants
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