VeriChip's "Hugs" Infant Protection System sounded an audible alarm and flashed a warning on the screen at the seventh-floor nurses' station when the parents of an infant attempted to remove their baby without authorization from the hospital's nursery. Staff quickly responded to the "Code Pink" alert, and security officials were able to stop the abduction, recover the infant unharmed, and return him safely to maternity ward staff. The parents, who have two other children in the supervision of social services, were concerned this child, too, would be removed from their care, according to a spokesman for Presbyterian Healthcare, the parent company of the hospital.
The "Hugs" system includes monitoring software and an ankle bracelet that contains a tiny radio transmitter designed to prevent infants from being removed from a health-care facility without authorization. Every infant who is born at the Presbyterian Hospital receives a Hugs tag on the ankle or wrist to monitor movement around the hospital. Exit points throughout the hospital also are electronically monitored to detect unauthorized removal of an infant.
In the last 22 years, there have been 233 infant abductions in the United States -- half of these abductions occurred from health-care facilities, according to VeriChip. Its RFID infant-protection system is designed to combat not only infant abductions, but also accidental infant mismatchings. VeriChip's infant-protection systems currently are installed in approximately 900 U.S. hospitals, the vendor says.