The Verichip, a small innocuous device no bigger than a grain of rice, was debuted in the latter half of 2004 as being a safe and efficient way for hospitals to access the medical history of a patient so as to speed up treatment and recovery (MSNBC, 2004). In a way the advent of this particular type of technology could be thought of as a medical milestone, the future of medicine so to speak wherein doctors, EMTs, nurses and various other medical personnel can quickly and accurately diagnose a patient’s current condition based on their medical history should the patient be unconscious, unable to speak or is relatively unaware of their own history of medical care (Armitage, 2004). From the point of view of medical practitioners the use of medical “chips” is a positive facilitator of medical care since not only can doctors respond quickly and efficiently to a patient’s condition but they can avoid utilizing particular medicines, procedures or methods of treatment should the patient’s medical record reveal a possible adverse reaction to the intended procedure (SCHNEIDERMAN, 2011). Despite these apparent advantages privacy concerns are at the forefront of the debate against their usage by the general public due to the potential for disreputable individuals to gain access to a patient’s private records. It is based on this that this paper will explore the pros and cons of the use of the medically implanted chips and will evaluate if the advantages of its uses outweigh the disadvantages.
Pros and Cons
Based on data examining the prevalence of medical error related deaths in the U.S. nearly 195,000 people die every year within hospitals due to some medical related error that was unforeseen from the onset of treatment (Medical News, 2004). In fact, based on studies from Encinosa and Hellinger (2008) it was noted that a large percentage of deaths from some form of treatment error came about as a direct result of a misdiagnosis by doctors as well as unforeseen consequences when using particular methods of treatment due to the apparent lack of information regarding the patient’s medical history (Encinosa & Hellinger, 2008). From this alone it can be seen that there is a distinct necessity in ensuring accurate medical information can be obtained by health care professionals so as to reduce the number of deaths that come about due to lack of information (Dodek, 2010). The utilization of implanted medical chip technology would be able to provide the necessary information doctors need especially if implemented on a global scale. In fact utilization of the technology is rather cheap when compared to the possible complications that may arise as a result of a misdiagnosed medical condition and as such proves the importance of utilizing this particular technology as a global healthcare standard. Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the possibility of the technology improving within the chip so that aside from enabling access to a person’s medical records it would also be able to monitor a person’s health on a real time basis without having to be connected to cumbersome hospital equipment.
This particular type of internal analysis can come in form of cholesterol level monitoring, blood pressure, presence of foreign chemicals in the system etc. These readouts can be utilized by doctors when the patient comes in for a checkup in order to determine the exact causes of certain maladies a person has. Not only would this significantly decrease the time it would take to diagnose a patient’s current condition but it would also help doctors determine whether there is any significant effect on the patient’s health over a long term period due to prescribed medication. On the other hand this particular aspect of the technology is still under development and as such its implementation could be decades more in the future.
It must be noted though that acceptance of a medical information chip by the general public has to first pass the hurdle of privacy issues. As noted by studies such as Weiss (2011) which examined the prevalence of hacking and hacking related crimes any form of personally identifiable information that can be easily and openly accessed can be used by hackers as a form of identity theft. With implanted medical chips people may not even realize that their medical information could be accessed, copied and used as way to for others to pose as them in order to receive free medical treatment (Weiss, 2011).
Conclusion and Recommendation
From the point of view of this paper it can be seen that despite the issues of privacy violation and identity theft the fact remains that the implanted medical chips, such as the Verichip, can help to reduce the number of medical error related deaths and as such should be utilized by the general public. One way of ensuring that the issues brought up in this paper don’t occur is utilize a form of randomized encryption software on implanted chips that is update after every visit so as to ensure that only people with the right encryption key (medical professionals and hospitals) can access and review the information stored inside.
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Dodek, P. (2010). 2 or more medical errors with adverse consequences, affecting 2.6% of patients, increased mortality in intensive care units. ACP Journal Club, 152(5), 11.
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