Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess empirically the social and ethical risks associated with implantable radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices.
Methods: Qualitative research included observational studies in twenty-three U.S. hospitals that have implemented new patient identification systems and eighty semi-structured interviews about the social and ethical implications of new patient identification systems, including RFID implants.
Results: The study identified three primary social and ethical risks associated with RFID implants: (i) unfair prioritization of patients based on their participation in the system, (ii) diminished trust of patients by care providers, and (iii) endangerment of patients who misunderstand the capabilities of the systems.
Conclusions: RFID implants may aggravate inequalities in access to care without any clear health benefits. This research underscores the importance of critically evaluating new healthcare technologies from the perspective of both normative ethics and empirical ethics.
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