Florida Family Premieres Medical Data Implants
With a painless syringe prick in their upper arms, a Florida family on Friday became the first recipients of tiny computer chip implants that store medical information.
Jeff and Leslie Jacobs, along with their 14-year-old son, Derek, had the chips, about the size of a grain of rice, implanted in about a minute under local anesthesia.
The family wanted the implants in case of medical emergencies.
The implant, called the VeriChip, was designed by Palm Beach-based Applied Digital Solutions Inc. The chips are similar to ones implanted in pets to identify them if they are lost.
Jeff Jacobs is a 48-year-old dentist who has suffered through cancer, a car crash, a degenerative spinal condition, chronic eye disease and abdominal operations. He is on 10 medications, and doctors have told him they are not sure how long he will live.
“We’re doing this as a security for us, because we’ve worked so hard to save my husband’s life,” said Leslie Jacobs, 46.
The Jacobs family’s chips contain only telephone numbers and information about previous medications.
The VeriChip doesn’t require batteries, and its data are read by a scanner that can be Internet-connected to a medical record database. Patients would pay a fee to keep medical information in the database but would be able to manage their own records.
For now, patients or their families would have to tell emergency medical workers that a chip had been implanted, VeriChip officials said.
If the chips ever become commonplace, emergency workers might automatically scan for the devices.
Each VeriChip is expected to sell for about $200. A scanner used to read its information would cost between $1,000 and $3,000.