AS 1998 gets under way, military physicians are planning tests of a device—somewhat resembling the small identification dog tag worn around the neck by generations of men and women in uniform—that could dramatically affect the availability of individual medical data in the civilian community as well.
The traditional military dog tag has contained little more medical information than the owner's blood type. The device to be tested this year is about the same dimensions as the present dog tag. However, it would contain a computerized version of the wearer's current health status, medical history, past and needed immunizations, radiographic or other images, audio or video recordings from physical examinations, electrocardiographic tracings, allergies, possible detrimental environmental exposures, and probably other data of use to physicians.
Soldiers demonstrate how the proposed personal information carrier (PIC) dogtag—a version of which is shown in close-up in the photograph at right—could be taken from the ill or injured wearer to provide medical data for a military physician. The computerized record could include a wide variety of useful information. (Photo courtesy of US Army)
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