Nov 12, 2008
You’ve been tagged.
Hospitals are increasingly using electronic-monitoring equipment to track patients, employees and medical devices to prevent them from going the way of the Junior Mint Seinfeld’s Kramer infamously dropped into an open surgical patient.
The e-tracking software has been used for more than a decade by hospitals to prevent baby kidnappings, the Wall Street Journal reports today. But now hospitals are tagging patients with radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices to, among other things, cut down on emergency room waiting time by keeping track of how long each person has been in the ER. They're tagging employees to get a handle on departments that need staff or can spare them. And equipment is tagged so it can be easily located – and to prevent surgeons from inadvertently leaving it inside patients.
Aug 26, 2008 | 12
The use of microchips to track people (such as those embedded in hospital wristbands) and products (those uncomfortable tags on clothing that have to be cut off prior to wearing) has come under fire from civil rights groups who claim that big corporations are using this technology as a tool for spying. But what about when these tags are embedded in people themselves, rather than the things they wear?
That's what Mexican security firm Xega SA, which sells technology for tracking people, wants to do, particularly in cases when people are held for ransom. For about $3,700, the company will implant a chip the size of a grain of rice (it costs another $1,800 per year for monitoring), reports the Telegraph. Although it is unclear where the chip is likely to be implanted in a person's body its customers carry with them a panic button that can be pressed if a person feels he or she is in danger. A transmitter then sends signals via satellite to pinpoint the location of the person in distress, reports Reuters. (Xega did not respond to requests from ScientificAmerican.com for an interview).
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