Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson has volunteered to get an RFID electronic chip implant to show the world just how safe the new technology is.

Tommy Thompson

The former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in President Bush’s first term sees it as a potentially life-saving move because the chip will have details of his medical history should he ever be in an accident.

Thompson will be among the first humans to get the chip. Pets have been routinely chipped at pounds and veterinarians’ offices in recent years.

Thompson, who recently joined the board of directors of VeriChip, said he believed the technology was an important and secure means of accessing medical records and other information.

Thompson sees the chip as extremely useful for doctors requiring personal information that will help medical professionals and others provide emergency treatment.

The chips contain a 16-digit identification code that can be scanned at hospitals and then linked to a database that contains users’ medical data.

Thompson said he will receive the implant when more hospitals have the scanning technology, which could be “as soon as six months to a year.”

FDA approved the chips in October 2004. About 7,000 chips have been sold and about 2,000 have been implanted worldwide, according to Scott Silverman, chairman of Applied Digital, which owns VeriChip.

Two hospitals – Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston – currently are equipped to scan the chips, Silverman said.

Thompson predicted that people eventually will overcome their skepticism about having a chip implanted. The chip “will prevent babies from being picked up by the wrong people in a maternity ward and make sure people in nursing homes don’t walk away,” he said.

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