Implantable Chip Approved for Medical Records

FDA Clears First Implantable Microchip for Human Use

Medically Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD on October 14, 2004

Oct. 14, 2004 -- Doctors may soon be able to track down people's medical records in the same manner pet owners can track down lost animals: by using a tiny implantable microchip that is placed under the skin.

The FDA has approved the first implantable radiofrequency identification microchip for human use. Known as VeriChip, the device is designed to help doctors quickly access a patient's medical records.

The chip is about the size of a grain of rice and contains a 16-digit verification number that is picked up by a scanner that emits a small amount of radio frequency that activates the chip and transmits the number back to the scanner.

A similar implantable microchipping system has been used in pets and livestock for identification purposes.

VeriChip is recommended for insertion in the triceps, between the elbow and the shoulder of the right arm. The chip is inserted in a brief outpatient procedure using a local anesthetic.