RFID Could Save Your Leg...or Kidney, or...
By now you have heard horror stories of poor souls being wheeled
into hospital operating rooms intending to have an operation on a designated
appendage or organ, only to discover later that the highly trained staff
mistakenly "fixed" problems the patients never had. Everything from
the wrong leg being removed to sterilization has been performed due
to miscommunications and lack of attention to details. Thanks to RF
engineers, the likelihood of such mishaps are decreasing now. A company
named SurgiChip, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, has obtained the first FDA-approved
surgical marking device that uses an RFID chip to positively identify
a patient and provide a bit of data storage unique to a particular tag.
Conceived of by an orthopedic surgeon, the SurgiChip is programmed with
patient ID information and a description of what surgery needs to be
performed, then it is taped to the patient in the vicinity of the affected
body part. Once in the operating room, the doctor and a witness scan
the RFID tag and confirm that the intended operation is the one they
are about to perform. Given that a large percentage of reported surgical
misadventures seem to have come from Florida hospitals, perhaps the
company's location is no mere happenstance.