Radio-Frequency ID Tag

Approved for Surgery by FDA

A radio-frequency tag that patients can affix like a bandage to ensure doctors perform the right surgery on the right person has won government approval.

The tag, manufactured by SurgiChip Inc. of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., aims to prevent wrongful surgeries, which records show annually kill thousands of patients.

SurgiChip is the first surgical marking device approved by the Food and Drug Administration to use radio-frequency identification. The FDA endorsed the same technology this week to track drugs on their journey from manufacturing plants to pharmacists' shelves.

The chip is part military dog tag and part high-tech smart chip.

The patient's name and the site of surgery are printed on the SurgiChip tag. Inside is a chip encoded with the type of surgery, date of surgery and the surgeon's name.

Before surgery, the tag is scanned and the patient is asked to confirm that the information is correct.

Some Coral Reefs Showing

Unexpected Resilience

Nearly two-thirds of coral reefs are officially endangered, but some are bouncing back despite warmer oceans and pollution, giving hope that the marine marvels are not doomed, scientists in Bangkok said.

In particular, researchers are encouraged by the recovery of coral reefs in remote or well-protected areas from the devastating coral "bleaching" effect of the 1998 El Nino weather phenomenon, during which sea surface temperatures rose well above normal.

Described as a "one-in-a-thousand-year event," the bleaching, which killed off vast swaths of reefs across the globe, has not been repeated to anything like the same extent in the past six years.

"Recovery should continue provided there are no major climate shifts in the next few decades," scientists said in a summary of the 2004 edition of Status of Coral Reefs of the World, released at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in the Thai capital.

"However, the recovery is not uniform and many reefs virtually destroyed in 1998 are showing minimal signs of recovery," they said.

Fifty-eight percent of the world's coral reefs are endangered, according to the report, which is to be made public in full next month.

Donor Group Says Patients

Should Wait Turn for Organs

The national organ transplant network is asking hospitals to discourage patients from advertising for donors and, if possible, to refuse to perform transplants that arise from these campaigns.

Patients should wait their turn in line, the network says.

Normally, when people die their organs go to whomever is at the top of the waiting list. The ranking is determined by many factors, including who would obtain the greatest medical benefit from a transplant, who would die soonest without one, and the locations of the patient and donor.

More than 87,000 people are awaiting organ transplants, and more than 6,000 die each year while on the list.

-- From News Services