Security Still Lags in Electronic Medical Records

Don Tennant

My understanding is that the Obama Health Care Plan includes a provision that calls for coverage of RFID chip implants with patient identification and health information. All I can say is I'd be the first person in line for an implant.

 

I experienced a medical emergency Saturday night that galvanized my belief in the merits of chip implants. Around midnight I was working barefoot in my garage, doing some much-needed spring cleaning. We have a window in the garage over some metal shelving units that are about six feet high. I was determined to clean the window, so my plan was to stand with one foot on a stepladder and the other foot on the window sill, straddling the shelves.

 

It was working just fine until I lost my balance and came crashing down over the shelves and hit the cement floor, with my bare right heel taking the full brunt of the impact. I remember lying on the floor somewhat stunned and knowing that my heel was in bad shape, and that the rest of me wasn't doing so great, either. My son Dan was the only other person at home at the time, and he was upstairs in his bedroom. Fortunately I had my iPhone in my pocket, so I called him and he rushed down and called 911.

 

An ambulance and fire truck arrived within a few minutes (I'm still not sure what was up with the fire truck, unless they were concerned that anybody peculiar enough to injure himself the way I did might also set something on fire). As they were lifting me onto a stretcher, one of the EMT guys asked me for my full name and date of birth. He wrote my responses on one of the rubber gloves he was wearing, which I thought was quite resourceful.

 

Then they loaded me into the ambulance and whisked me away to the nearby hospital. As I lay in a state of delirium in the ambulance, a different EMT guy asked me for my full name and date of birth. I dutifully responded.


 

When we arrived at the emergency room, I was wheeled into an examination room where a nurse asked for my full name and date of birth. I dutifully responded again. She was just doing her job, and she had enough to deal with. My left foot was bloodied from its contact with the metal shelves on the way down, and she had the hardest time understanding that it was actually my right foot that was the problem.

 

After about 20 minutes, an intern came in to examine my right foot, accompanied by a different nurse who asked for my full name and date of birth. She also asked about allergies and whether I was on any medication. I dutifully responded. By now the shock had subsided and I was feeling the pain, so the questions were getting a bit tiresome.

 

About an hour and a half later they finally wheeled me to x-ray, where the technician asked for my full name and date of birth. I'm not making this up. I kept my cool and responded, not wanting to come across as some crotchety old guy who should have been in bed rather than cleaning his garage.

 

They wheeled me back to the examination room, where I learned that there had been a shift change. I had a new nurse who asked me for my full name, date of birth, and whether I'd ever been hospitalized there before. She promised she would get me some morphine for the pain, so I wanted to stay on her good side. I dutifully responded.

 

About an hour later they decided they needed a few more views of my heel, so they wheeled me back to x-ray, where a different x-ray technician asked for my full name and date of birth. It was shortly after that, when the nausea from the morphine was at its crescendo, that they decided they needed a cat scan of my foot. So I was taken to the big cat scan machine, where the cat scan operator asked for my full name and date of birth.

 

Eventually I was seen by a physician who informed me that I had broken my heel (no kidding, doc), and by an orthopedic specialist who put my right foot and leg in a splint cast up to my knee. I was released at about 9:30 Sunday morning.

 

It might seem like a little thing, but when you're dealing with things like intense pain and nausea, having to repeatedly provide your personal identification information, along with various other bits of medical data, is extraordinarily bothersome. If only I had had a microchip the size of a grain of rice implanted somewhere on my body that would have prevented all that. What a godsend that would have been.

 

And yes, in case you're wondering, the iPhone I used to call my son is the one I wrote about regretting having bought ("Why I Regret Buying an iPhone"). It survived the fall, and I'm grateful I had it on me. I'm thankful I bought my iPhone. There. I said it.



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