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.