200 Alzheimer's Patients now being implanted with Microchip

Florida-based VeriChip has developed an FDA-approved microchip that can be implanted in an Alzheimer's patient's arm. The VeriChip contains a unique 16-digit number which allows for wearer identification and immediate access to that persons medical record. The medical information is contained in a database managed by VeriChip and could be accessed from a hospital emergency room. The microchip about the size of a grain of rice must be scanned in order for the information to become available. The chip is being positioned by VeriChip as a critical part of emergency medicine. It is obvious that the majority of early adopters are interested in the chip for wandering and identification of lost loved one’s.

One disadvantage of the chip is that it must be read by a scanner and they are not readily available to law enforcement or outside a hospital. Another disadvantage is that the chip is not clearly visible. In order for a wearer to be identified they would need to be taken to a hospital. The chip does allow for immediate access to medical records and this is certainly an advantage in situations were immediate medical treatment is necessary.

In comparison to the chip, the Alzheimer’s Association offers a low-tech alternative, the Safe Return bracelet. The Safe Return bracelet contains a toll free 800 number that allows for fast identification of the wearer. The bracelet which cost $40 is an inexpensive alternative. Most law enforcement personnel can identify the bracelet on sight.

The microchip is “riling" up privacy advocates because it allows for immediate assess to private medical records. The security of the VeriChip scanner/reader is an issue. Who will have access and is the system secure?

My feeling is that the majority of families directly involved with Alzheimer’s disease would favor the chip if it were cheap and as effective as the bracelet in identifying lost or wandering loved one's. It is my belief that privacy advocates should stay out of the way of the development of the system and allow the families involved to make decisions concerning their use of the chip.

VeriChip based in Delray Beach, Florida intends to implant the chip in 200 volunteers in the next week. There are more then 250,000 people suffering from Alzheimer’s in south Florida.

Forty Dollar Alzheimer's Association Safe Return Bracelet Saves Life

Safe Return Bracelet

Wikipedia, VeriChip


ABC News Alzheimer's Patients Lining Up for Microchip