RFID technology in healthcare - Essay Example

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Radio frequency identification tags are computer chips linked to a tiny antenna that is used to convey information electronically through a close RFID reader.The use of RFIDs in health care is a promising progress in IT,but also raises vital legal and social issues…
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RFID technology in healthcare Introduction Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are computer chips linked to atiny antenna that is used to convey information electronically through a close RFID reader. The use of RFIDs in health care is a promising progress in IT, but also raises vital legal, ethical and social issues. They particularly improve patient safety, but also pose some physical risks, deter patient privacy and present other common hazards. RFIDs use wireless technology to converse data through signals over radio frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The microchip stores the data which is then packaged so that they can be attached to human body (Daniel, Albert and Mike 2007). There are two main types of RFID tags, active and passive. The passive tags have no internal power supply. Their operation is by converting the radio frequency energy from a reader device to signals that convey stored data for a short distance. They currently have limited amounts of data storage hence a limited functionality. This is because the information they have cannot be altered (Debora, Vergil and Slee 2008). This is opposed to the active RFID tags which contain an internal battery. This provides better reliability, on-tag data processing, longer transmission ranges, and greater data storage. Their capacity to process data internally permits expanded capabilities in the future. On the other hand, their superior transmission range presents an extra substantial risk to patients’ privacy and data confidentiality (Jerry, 2007). RFID technology has several advantages. First, it is deployed in monitoring patient wait times in real time. Reusable active technology allows an ER see precisely the number of people in the queue and the patient’s length of wait time. It also ensures the patient gets the right medication. It gives the staff easy than bar codes since there is additional privacy. This is evidenced when the nurse is away from the computer on wheels administering medication to a patient. The computer is programmed to go into screen save mode thereby keeping patient information confidentiality. In addition to this, the RFID reduces the chance of ignoring things like sponges and other surgical kit apparatus after an OR process (Debora, Vergil and Slee 2008). The RFID tags are also used to monitor the hand cleaning stations at touch points. This helps in improving conformity to hand washing etiquettes. Hand wash stations at every touch point are set with an RFID reader. Every time a hand wash station is utilized the reader records the identity of the user and length of stay before the reader. The gathered data lets an organization to see how sound hand washing protocol is being followed. Lastly, it helps physicians to be especially careful with their surgical tools. These instruments are a very vital part in the daily work of a doctor. They are used in different operating rooms hence they must be sterilized after every operation. This makes their management easier (Daniel, Albert and Mike 2007). On the other hand, these devices may promote physical risks to the patient. Despite the fact that they are removable, their tiny size allows them to drift under the skin, making them possibly difficult to remove. In addition, Jerry, (2007) says that RFID tags have the ability to cause electromagnetic interference. This may interfere with electrosurgical devices and defibrillators. Another shortcoming is that these devices can fail due to several reasons. An example is when they are destroyed accidentally. It is also possible for communication to be broken when there is interference. Another major shortcoming is cited by Debora, Vergil and Slee (2008). They say that these chips have a potential impact on patient security and privacy. Physicians have the obligation of assuring patients that their medical information will be confidential. Moreover, protection of privacy is required to guard patients from humiliation, loss of health care coverage, probable social discrimination, or other damaging consequences. Lastly, finding new materials that can be eaten and digested without making the health of patients in danger is also a challenge (Daniel, Albert and Mike 2007). Conclusion RFID technology can improve patient care and patient safety. Nonetheless, the efficiency and safety of human-implantable chips has yet to be recognized. The medical community must support additional research to obtain the necessary information to make conversant medical decisions in regard to the use of these chips (Debora, Vergil and Slee 2008). The physicians implanting these chips should take certain precautions. It is important that the patient must be informed of medical uncertainties that come with these chips. The physicians should partner in the research into the efficacy, safety and potential non medical uses of this chips in humans. In addition to these, the doctors must protect the privacy of the patient. This can be done by having confidential information stored on RFID devices with informational security similar to that needed of medical records (Jerry, 2007). . References Daniel H.V, Albert P, & Mike P. (2007). RFID: a guide to radio frequency identification, New York: John Wiley & Sons. Debora A., Vergil N & Slee H. (2008). Slee's Health Care Terms, Harvard: Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Jerry B., (2007). RFID applied, New York: John Wiley and Sons. Read More
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