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FDA Approves Implantable RFID for Patients 451

anzha writes "It seems that the FDA has approved an RFID tag for use in patients. The idea being that the rice grain sized chip would be implanted and scanned for patient history and updates. It seems that a similar chip was used by the Mexican government for employees that work with sensitive documents. IDK about you, but this seems a to me little...creepy."
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FDA Approves Implantable RFID for Patients

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  • Defibrilator (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cartzworth ( 709639 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:34PM (#10519334) Journal
    My grandfathers defib has information stored on it, although I'm not sure its it's RFID.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:35PM (#10519340)
    Rev 13:16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or[6] the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

    Repent, the end is near.

    • by Rand Huck ( 821621 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:42PM (#10519400) Homepage
      So, if any of you folks have a barcode with "666" in it, lock yourself in a room and don't make eye contact with ANYBODY for 1000 years.
      • So, if any of you folks have a barcode with "666" in it, lock yourself in a room and don't make eye contact with ANYBODY for 1000 years.

        Luxky me... My number is 668.

        Thank god for permanent markers.

    • First it was UPC barcodes. Now RFID...

      Not that I don't believe something like this will eventually happen, but I think whatever "mark" it is, will come in a much more pervasive and subtle form - definitely embedded into your body though. Perhaps your own DNA is already enough information for this sort of thing...
      • such a mark is symbolic as to the very nature of our being, personality... as to whom we serve. The devil, or God.

        that's as much as I can figure out. Biblical scripture is littered with symbolism. Exact figures are a rarity and as far as I can tell, 99% of numbers are symbolic in meaning.
      • What could be more subtle and insidious than a small chip, painlessly inserted? Lets think of the "advantages" of this coupled with a cashless society (screws on tinfoil hat):

        1. No more illegal drug trade. Hard to sell drugs if you can't get paid.

        2. Ditto for prostitution.

        3. No more counterfeiting.

        4. No more theft. Remember that IBM commercial a while back with a dude looking like he stole some steaks? The guard comes running out of the store after him and says" sir, you forgot your receipt! "Implying t

        • by voisine ( 153062 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:55PM (#10520582)
          Cash will always be around if there is a demand for it. Imagine a culture of Christians unwilling to get the mark. Initially they can trade amongst each other. The most marketable good will become the defacto currency like Vodka in that later days of the soviet union, or american cigarettes in immediate post-war Berlin. There of course will be plenty of marked people who will take a risk and illegally resell their goods with a markup into the non-marked underground economy. As long as the Christians continue to produce things of value to others, they'll be able to survive.
    • This doesn't mean we're going to have it become mandatory. All it says is that the FDA approved it, but we probably should watch out. People need to quit conjuring up end of world scenarios, in any case.
      • No, of course it won't. If I were an evil overlord, here's how I would introduce it...

        1) Offer it voluntarily for those that believe it will improve one service or another.
        2) Only prisoners convicted of felonies.
        3) Drunken drivers who have restricted driving privileges.
        4) Schoolchildren, after some kidnapping scare.
        5) Babies, after a hospital nursery mixup.
        6) Ex-cons on parole, people on probation.
        7) Military personel (Will help if your body is burned beyond recognition).
        8) People who need to enter restricted buildings. (FBI, CIA agents, congressional staffers, whitehouse personel)

        At about this point, I'd start offering expedited rows at the checkout counter, bus terminals, airports, etc. Treat those without the chips as "well, you're completely free to choose, after all it's a free country" and the same way you do people who guard their SSN. Make *them* feel like they're crazy, instead of the system being so.

        9) State government personel. State vehicle's ignitions will no longer work without them...

        Of course, I may not have the order perfect here, and certainly big business will do its part to help. "I'm sorry sir, but this ATM only works if you have a chipID, so that we can be sure your card wasn't stolen!".

        There are some things that are practically inevitable should the become possible. It is now possible, and past one of the few regulatory hurdles that might have obstructed it. Have fun being tagged like livestock, all you sheeple.
        • Gee, why does this sound so much like Trusted Computing for Hominids??

          In similar schemes, there's Proposition 69 on the fall California state ballot: this would provide for [I quote from the state election info booket]
          DNA sampling of
          1) all adults and juveniles convicted of any felony offense
          2) all adults and juveniles convicted of any sex offense, or of an attempt to commit such an offense (not just felonies)
          3) all adults *arrested* for or charges with felony sex offenses, murder, or voluntary manslaguhter
        • And you'd be right. Look at how the idea of a national identifying number was introduced - the SSN. And look at how many things you *can't* do without an SSN, or an SSN equivalent.

          The chip will go the same way, with gradual introduction to selected members eventually culminating into "don't have the chip? then we won't do business with you."

    • for it is the number of a man

      Actually, the NIV (widely considered to be more accurate than the King James translation) uses the phrase "for it is man's number". Big difference.
    • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:50PM (#10519459)
      He causes all ... to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads

      A tiny computer chip approved Wednesday for implantation in a patient's arm

    • Interesting to note that one place in the human body with a high temperture differential is the forehead. For those of us that have hair, the forehead is a major vent for the braincase, after all.

      Thermal gradients are a valid source of power for many devices, and considerable research has been done on ID chips that can do just that. A rice-grain sized chip might still be a bit big for insertion into a forehead, but give it a few years.

      The Mark just may be closer than you think.

    • OMG, so what you're saying is the US government is actually the beast. Whew, I guess Microsoft will be pleased to hear they're off the hook for a bit.
  • Implant? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Databass ( 254179 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:35PM (#10519346)

    Can't I just keep it in my wallet or embedded in my shoes or on my car keys or something?
  • Ebeh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TidyKiller ( 786958 )
    I don't care about the advantages, that's some seriously creepy stuff. I'm never eager to jump and say "LOOK! THAT THING/PERSON IS RUNNING AWAY WITH OUR RIGHTS!", but RFIDs still scare me..
  • Help! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:37PM (#10519360)
    Could someone help me out? I don't know what IDK means.

  • by CrazyJim0 ( 324487 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:38PM (#10519365)
    Biblically speaking, one could draw all types of claims of it being evil. I'm not making these claims, just saying they've been voiced before.

    I will claim to have been spoken to by God though:
    • Then use that to our advantage. At least here in the US fundies have an extraordinary, and indeed terrifying amount of power at the moment. Get them to believe that this is "the mark of the devil" (or whatever the shit they call it) and I guarantee it'll be dead.
  • by darnok ( 650458 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:38PM (#10519368)
    ...So I go to hospital, and one of these RFID tags is implanted within me.

    Next time I visit doctor/hospital, what restrictions are there on info from "my" tag being read? Two possible options I can see:
    - everyone can read my info, and now I have to worry about my health info being scanned by everyone with any remote interest in it. Get on a plane - *SCAN*; "Sorry sir, we believe your heart may give out on this flight and we don't want any lawsuits". Go to a job interview - *SCAN*; "Sorry but we won't employ someone with your health problems"
    - nobody can read my info except for readers authorised by the single company controlling the implants. Hmm, now I wonder how they could conceivably abuse that information...

    Thanks, but no thanks - I'll take my chances with anonymity. The possibilities of abuse of this technology are just too high
    • by erick99 ( 743982 ) <> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:44PM (#10519417)
      The implant only has a key that can unlock your records within the doctor's office database or the hospital. The RFID tag itself does not contain any medical records. The tag also acts as the equivalent of a UPC code. This might reduce or eliminate the kind of errors where you are thought to be patient B who is getting a leg amputated where you are really patient Z getting your tonsils out. So, there are some fantastically good things that this technology achieves. The privacy concerns are valid but this kind of technology is going to come into use sooner or later so we might as well prepare for it in such a way that privacy issues are addressed up front and appropriately.
      • I don't have a problem if this tag holds e.g. my name; I can see how that could be used to prevent my leg getting accidentally amputated.

        I have a concern if it holds my medical history, regardless of any encryption that could be put on the data. Several years ago, many encryption algorithms were thought to be "good enough"; now they've been cracked. At the rate CPU speed is increasing, there's not likely to be any encryption that could be applied to an RFID tag that would be definitively uncrackable befo
        • I have a concern if it holds my medical history

          well, if one actually reads the article, it indicates that it doesn't contain your medical history, rather just a personal upc code which is tied to a database...
        • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @09:25PM (#10519686) Journal
          I'd be a lot more concerned that I was in a hospital full of idiots that might amputate my fucking leg! I'd see this as more of a alergy lookup kind of thing, especially for people severly alergic, diabetic, epilepsy, etc that frequent the hospital regularly. Then when they come in they can have the crucial data faster without finding out the person's name, ss#, etc first: just scan their arm! (note this would only be an option if they didn't want to have a metal bracelet thingy).
      • by MourningBlade ( 182180 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @09:55PM (#10519847) Homepage

        What's wrong with one of those temporary tattoos? We've got some fabulous technology with those (take a look at the female olympic vollyball teams...two or three, if you need them), what's keeping us from printing a 1-week barcode on your shoulder, or other good location (ankle, etc).

        Would seem to be a better idea than an implant.

    • everyone can read my info, and now I have to worry about my health info being scanned by everyone with any remote interest in it.

      well, seeing as how the chip only has a unique number on it that is tied to a medical database, I doubt that just anyone can find out your medical history. the chance of any company being able to scan you and getting your medical history is exactly the same as said company doing a background check on you and coming up with your medical history. (they're either going to have ac
    • First and foremost being, NEVER read the referenced article. Always spout comments that are as apocalyptic as possible before clicking throught the link(s).

      Think UPC code. The identifier, emblazoned on a food item, brings up its name and price on the cashier's screen.

      The VeriChip itself contains no medical records, just codes that can be scanned, and revealed, in a doctor's office or hospital. With that code, the health providers can unlock that portion of a secure database that holds that person's med
    • Get on a plane - *SCAN*; "Sorry sir, we believe your heart may give out on this flight and we don't want any lawsuits"

      While you may not want it, there is always the possibilty that eventually it will be required, so instead of *SCAN*; "Sorry sir, we believe your heart may give out on this flight and we don't want any lawsuits", instead you will get *SCAN*; "Sorry sir, but this airline requires we have access to your VeriChip in the event of a medical emergency"
  • by Fyre2012 ( 762907 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:40PM (#10519386) Homepage Journal

    I for one welcome our new rice grain sized overlords

    Just think of all the other wonderful uses once the technology becomes more widely accepted...

    No more lines at the airport for people with the chip!
    metal detectors augmented with RFID scanning / live reporting / updating tools...

    "I'm sorry, sir... you are not allowed on the plane. It says here you use something called Linux, and apparently that's only used for pirating copies of window$, making you a terrorist. This transaction has also just been added to your RFID file. Have a nice day"
  • In Soviet Russia, government implant chip in you!

    Er... Wait a minute.
  • Many people use serious medications that could interact badly with other drug or they have critical medical conditions that affect treatment. In an accident, the EMTs need to know who you are without fumbling around for a wallet or purse (that may have been flung from the car) or jumbled if there are multiple people in the car. Even a med alert bracelet is only as good as it is secure on the wrist. An RFID implant and scanner makes it less likely that you will be separated for your ID.
    • Even a med alert bracelet is only as good as it is secure on the wrist. An RFID implant and scanner makes it less likely that you will be separated for your ID.

      If you're in an accident that can separate you from your wrist, it can also separate you from the the bit of skin containing your RFID tag.

      I'm glad to know that these people with medicalert problems will be dependent on the battery powered RFID scanners from now on. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?
    • It's just an ID tag. That's ALL. It has NO history information saved on it. It just uniquely identifies the "wearer" for purposes of database lookups. Odds are that EMT'z will be the last thing linked remotely into the hospital LAN to look up the pertinent records.

      Basically it's an armband that can't get lost, swapped, etc.
    • sorry - couldn't resist: Those who sacrifice liberty for security obtain neither.
    • by EngMedic ( 604629 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @09:50PM (#10519821) Homepage
      Speaking from experience, about the last thing i would care about on scene at a wreck bad enough to eject stuff from the vehicle is whether you're allergic to pennicillin or not. What i care about is making sure your neck doesn't move, you can actually breathe, and that you're not bleeding to death or going into shock. We can find out pertinent medical data later, once you're stable.

      In the field, about the only thing we can do to you, as an EMT, anyway -- medics can push some drugs, but not ones that would cause an allergic reaction, especially on a MVA -- we'd probably just push saline to get some fluids back into you; but about the only thing an EMT can do to trigger an allergic reaction is use latex gloves. that's it. nobody's allergic to O2 or a leg splint or a cerebral-spine stabilization device.

      And it's not like i want to be standing in the middle of the road with a reciever, poking at you and trying to recieve... what, your own personal bar code so i can radio that to the hospital? that's going to take far longer than is safe, for you bleeding to death on the pavement, and for me about to get hit by a damn rubbernecker.
  • by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. ( 142215 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:45PM (#10519422) Homepage
    How about an RFID that can be used as a credit card?

    It would be so much more convenient than having to carry a credit card, worry about dropping it, or not having it (e.g. you are ordering drinks poolside). One wouldn't need cash either.

    Implantation in the hand would be more convenient, one could just wave it over a scanner at a supermarket.

    More details available here [].
  • What's the point? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:45PM (#10519428) Journal
    There is no central healthcare database. Having worked for the largest chain of hospitals in the world (was Columbia, now called HCA), I know firsthand that medical data is not shared between an entire chain of hospitals, let alone hospitals outside of their influence.

    So what's the point in having an ID number imbedded in the patient via RFID, or having it tattooed on their forehead, etc, if it does not mean anything outside of a specific hospital or market? How is this better than a patient carrying a Social Security card? The only thing that comes to mind is to help track drug seekers that go from ER to ER. However these aren't exactly the type of people that would volunteer to be tagged like a wild animal.

    Dan East
    • Basically, it's a replacement for the cheesy lil armbands.

      It won't get torn off, or swapped accidentally, or on purpose.

      It's just a unique tag for a patient that reduces the odds of it getting scrambled around in any way.
    • by Ratcrow ( 181400 )
      Then, the next time they go to a supermarket and pay with a credit card, or go to the DMV, or the airport, or present an ID anywhere that can scan the implant (even without their knowledge or consent) then that place has an association between the RFID tag and the person's identity.

      Sure, one supermarket chain here, one airport there, one state government yonder won't make much of a difference. But there are forces that make ubiquitous tracking very likely -- supermarkets already track buying habits, cell
  • I'd think that you'd want as much medical information in the hands of your doctors as possible.

    For example, if you're allergic to something like penicillin they could read that from your implant instead of attempting to somehow elicit it out of your unconcious body.

    Likewise, if you have AIDS but didn't tell anyone the hospital would probably treat you differently, given that you might have a whole slew of daily meds in your system that might interact with whatever they were planning to do with you.

    Of cou
    • > Could law enforcement abuse it? Probably. But
      > those guys don't have a lot of free time, and what
      > free time they have won't be used scannning random
      > individuals.

      You're assuming that the scanning and abuse will be performed by "those guys". Obviously, data would be captured and analysed by machines rather than people.

      Once there's enough people with these devices implanted, there would be a compelling case to have a RFID reader set up at e.g. every train station, scanning individuals and mo
    • RTFA!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by unicorn ( 8060 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @09:09PM (#10519596)
      Read the linked article.

      It's a unique ID tag. That's ALL.

      The chip won't have ANY data other than "who" you are. And to get any additional data you have to link into the hospital records.

      And the police don't have a chance of getting in to those records thanks to privacy laws on medical records.


      It's a paper bracelet with your name on it. That's all. You just won't lose this one.
      • Re:RTFA!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

        The largest impiedment to a true Database Society that we have is the lack of a way to get a unique fingerprint on each person in a crowd without their active consent in each instance. Pictures aren't good enough, and cross-database compatibility is very difficult as well.

        I'm cool with the hospital using this, but this "paper bracelet with your name on it [that you] won't lose" is a unique identifier that is mass scanable.

        Yes, your medical records at the hospital will be secure. But that chip in you is

  • by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. ( 142215 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:50PM (#10519462) Homepage
    For those that think this is a bad thing, don't blame the FDA. The FDA's only job should be to ensure medical safety, that unsafe products don't harm people, not to prevent the abusive use of a product which is not intriniscally bad. It is the use of the product which can be bad. Isn't that the argument you use in stating P2P software should stay legal?

    Saying the FDA should ban this technology because it can be abused is like saying they should ban cough syrup because of DXM abuse or that the MPAA should ban Linux DVD software because it can be used by movie pirates, or that the RIAA should be able to ban P2P software because someone could use it to distribute a billion copies of the latest Britney Spears album.
    • I see your point and agree with you, but the argument could still be made that, while piracy is damaging to the RIAA (and the artists of course), medical information being broadcast to the wrong person is an invasion of privacy, or worse, could be used against that person to negative effect.

      I personally figure, if someone wants to know I had my appendix out in 1994, or have allergies to dust mites and stupid people, big whoop.

      I could be wrong
    • Hear Hear!

      Good to see a voice of reason, that isn't wearing a tinfoil hat.
      Too often we hear on slashdot: "Allow us our technology, if you ban us from free knowledge you are hinderring our life!" and then in the next article "Ban this technology, if you don't ban it it will destroy our rights!"

      So much emotion, fear and ignorance from a crwod that preaches that they are smarter and more capable than the rest of the population.

      Instead of fighting the possible abuses of the technology, we are instead stuck w
    • All the FDA are probably doing is test that the RFID devices have no negative impact on your body. ie. they don't emit RF that will cause cancer and the plastic they are made of doesn't cause you to get sick.

      I don't believe the FDA has a mandate to set any moral guidelines (ie saying RFIDs are a "good thing" or a "bad thing"). Same deal when they check abortion drugs etc.

      Saying whether to allow RFID as a "good thing" or "bad thing" and should be legal or not is something that congress or whatever do.

  • Well, it's not evil at all. It's technology, which has no inherent moral value. It just is.

    But, what I was originally going to point out... I can see this being useful for nursing homes. Tracking patient movement, on-the-spot checking for correct medication, etc. Especially for victims of Alzheimers, who don't know who you are, where they are, and are quite befuddled over just what to do.
  • Whatever is Created (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swat_r2 ( 586705 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:53PM (#10519489)
    Whatever is created can also be hacked. That's both scary and liberating at the same time. I'm used to incompetence on a daily basis from every person I deal with, from the grocer, to my friendly neighborhood hospital. We're human, and I make mistakes as much as the nex guy. Technology isn't going to solve these problems, but I can see the mistakes being more severe. We're on our way to being slaves to data.. I wonder how close we are to the 20,000 year cycle, and if our number close to being up. Take that as you will ;)
  • Have an elderly person around the house? Can't afford to put them in a home? Don't have any relatives who will take him in?

    Then get...The invisible leash!

    Using the RFID tag in the subject, it locates him or her as he/she makes an escape for freedom, then applies a mild, 30,000 volt shock to gently remind them that you care.

    Warning This device may be affected and triggered by many garage door openers, WIFI hot spots, and thunderstorms. Not recomended for those wearing underwire bras, or pacemakers.

    I don't exactly remember it, but its close enough. Borrowed from the Bob and Tom radio show
  • Oh yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lifebouy ( 115193 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:56PM (#10519503) Journal
    That would work right up to the MRI. Then it would be slag.
    Well, much as this hackles my tin foil hat side, I'll simply say I will be making a microwave gun to cook that sucker if I can't dig it out with an Xacto blade. Heebie Jeebies. 1984 is now.
  • by MMHere ( 145618 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:58PM (#10519524)
    According to the theology of some fundamentalist (and often Republican) Christians, this essentially constitutes the "mark of the Beast."

    They consider this to be "evil."

    Won't they try to combat it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @09:24PM (#10519684)
    We have implantable ID chips, a fleet of automated surveillance airships and then a bill to let our government run through any database it wants to without any warrant to hunt for "terrorists". Wow, I have a great idea, let's link all of these things together! We'll have implanted chips, surveillance airships will use them to track us, and then they will use every database in the country to store and correlate all those data! Then there's no way the terrorists can win and we'll be able to preserve our freedom! Oh wait...

    The debate is going on now and both sides keep talking about all the things we are doing to strengthen homeland security. When will it be time to start questioning whether this makes us more secure? Perhaps doing all this might make us less secure at some point? It's not like 20th century governments have some impeccable record of not abusing their power [] over their citizens...

    Posted anonymously, the chilling effect in action.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @09:51PM (#10519822) Homepage Journal
    ... they'd patent it but teh aliens did it first....
  • by vegetablespork ( 575101 ) <> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:17PM (#10519984) Homepage
    And he causeth all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that there be given them a mark on their right hand, or upon their forehead; And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
    - Revelation 13:16-17
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:38PM (#10520112) Journal

    When SSNs first came out, everybody warned about the possibility of abuse for its use as a national number similar to how the nazi's and USSR did

    About 20 years ago, it was a huge no-no to use SSNs for doing software, but we did it anyways (actually, I was allowed as I was doing Medical Software in 1985). Then the justice dept cracked down on its use. So everybody switched to Drivers License, but that was considered too much of a national ID.

    Now, in the last 3 years, we are required to give SSN's and Drivers Licenses everywhere (bank, jobs, etc). CC companies are now required to give instance access to DOJ whenever they want it. The DOJ has instance access to all tollroads DBs of which cars with tollpass RFIDs are tracking.

    The patriot act II (basically passed by both houses and the admin on the day that Sadaam's capture was announced) assures the above and more. (interesting that is was more to DOJ rather than NSA/CIA/NGSA).

    And now, the feds want to implant chips in us the same way that I do for my dogs????? Hummmm, Yeah, right.

    • by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:02AM (#10520633) Journal
      My original SSN card says (in small print) "Not To Be Used For Idnetification". It was issued about 1970. If you look at my USN dogtag, issued in Feb 1976, guess what they used for my serial number? The government can't even follow their own rules, how can we be expected to?
    • by sw155kn1f3 ( 600118 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:09AM (#10520972)
      > When SSNs first came out, everybody warned about the possibility of abuse for its use as a national number similar to how the nazi's and USSR did

      I don't know about nazis, but USSR didn't have any ID number. They have a passport with issued # on it. (quite standard thing for any ID I believe). It wasn't used for anything important anyway.
      In modern Russia they still have these passport #'s... Not used for anything important too. There was an attempt to give every citizen Tax #, but it's not mandatory. I didn't ever encountered a situation where you need one. So stop making things up please.
  • by Mac Degger ( 576336 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:39PM (#10520120) Journal
    Quite a number of bars in Europe already do this as a so-called 'VIP-treatment'; get an RFID implanted to pay for your drinks/entry (as in you get debited later on your bank account).

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.