RFID Talk Blog

RFID: it’s about saving lives

Day two of RFID Live featured more innovation and spectacular use cases for the technology. It’s clear that RFID is becoming much more than an enabling technology to increase sales and manufacturing efficiencies. RFID is also about saving lives.

During my visit today with Chris Warner at the Motorola booth, we were joined by Mike Eagle, director of information technology at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland. Within two months, Eagle says that the toe identification tags used to identify deceased bodies will be replaced with a passive RFID tag. By doing so, Eagle estimates that the the Medical Examiner’s office will be able to increase organ donations by 50 to 75 percent.

According to the website organdonor.gov, 113,770 people are waiting for some kind of organ transplant. Eighteen people die each day waiting for a donated organ. The group says that one organ donor can save up to eight lives. If a similar system were mandated in the U.S., it stands to reason that RFID enabled cadaver tracking could save more than 3,000 lives a year by making more organs readily available for transplant procedures.

Once a body arrives at the Medical Examiner’s office, the clock starts ticking for the opportunity to donate organs. Often, after next of kin is contacted, paperwork is completed and other procedural requirements, the window of opportunity for donating organs is greatly reduced. Eagle says that automating the process will allow transplant specialists to use time and temperature measurements to more reliably determine the viability of organs for transplant.

Eagle would also like to use active RFID with temperature sensors mounted on the gurney’s transporting cadavers to monitor storage and temperature conditions, further increasing transplant success rates.

The Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office began using an RFID system from File Trail for simple file tracking two years ago. By placing RFID readers from Motorola above the drop-ceiling at designated locations throughout the seven-story building, the location of the case files are updated as they are moved among clerk’s cubicles, elevator lobbies and key transition areas allowing users to view the current location of specific files.

These capabilities have saved employees valuable time that they would have previously spent searching for missing files. The increased efficiency has virtually eliminated the problem of misplaced files.

Stay tuned to RFID 24-7 for coverage of more of the use cases emerging from RFID Live.

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