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Alzheimer's Care Center to Carry Out VeriChip Pilot
The Florida facility will implant RFID chips in 200 volunteers this summer to test the VeriMed system's ability to identity patients and their medical histories.
May 25, 2007—This summer, Alzheimer's Community Care (ACC), a West Palm Beach, Fla., provider of support to Alzheimer's patients and their caretakers, will implant RFID chips in about 200 volunteers who are clients of the organization. The two-year project, says Mary M. Barnes, president and CEO of ACC, will employ VeriChip Corp.'s VeriMed system to help identify patients who arrive at an emergency room in an unresponsive state.
ACC provides support to about 2,000 patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. That includes a daycare center for some patients, as well as visiting registered nurses, caregiver education programs and support groups. One safety concern, Barnes says, involves the lack of information available to medical personnel when patients unable to speak for themselves are admitted to a hospital during an emergency, unaccompanied by caregivers. In such circumstances, the patients may receive inappropriate treatment because doctors are unaware of any existing medical conditions.
Alzheimer's Community Care considered a multitude of resources to reduce this risk, says Barnes, including MedicAlert wristbands. Such wristbands, however, can be removed or damaged, rendering them useless. Therefore, 10 months ago, Barnes began speaking with Scott Silverman, now chairman and CEO of VeriChip, about an RFID solution. Alzheimer's Community Care has formed a review board to generate the proper paperwork for the participants, as well as other basic protocols, before beginning the project. Once the board finishes its work and the project is launched, hospitals that have VeriChip-trained staff and have implemented the procedures will be able to access the medical histories of the 200 participating patients.
When an unresponsive patient enters the hospital, the staff can use an RFID interrogator to scan that person's arm. If the patient has had a VeriMed chip embedded, the reader will indicate its ID number. That number can then be inputted manually, or directed wirelessly to the VeriMed Web-based database. If the hospital is an approved care provider, it can immediately access the patient's identification and health records.
For the pilot, ACC nurses will be trained by VeriChip physicians to use a syringe to insert passive 134 kHz RFID tags, compliant with the ISO 11784 and 11785 standards, in a patient's right upper arm. Encased in glass, and about the size of a rice grain, the tags have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Each tag is encoded with a unique 16-digit ID number, associated with the patient's medical records stored in the VeriChip-hosted database. The project is designed to test the functionality of the RFID implant in real-life scenarios.
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