Microchip Adverse Events

Under the compulsory microchipping legislation introduced in England, Wales and Scotland, adverse events in relation to a microchip implanted in a dog must be reported to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Although only a legal requirement for dogs, we would encourage anyone who identifies a possible adverse event in any species to report it.

An adverse event is classed as:

• Migration of a microchip from the original implantation site.
• Any pain, suffering or pathology arising from the implantation of a microchip.
• Failure of a microchip. Failure of a microchip is defined as failure of the microchip to transmit the encoded number when scanned with an appropriate transceiver (scanner).
Failure to report an adverse event is a prosecuteable offence which may be liable for a fine.

Many of these adverse events may be identified by veterinary staff when an animal visits their practice. It is important to note that veterinary staff are not required to police the legislation. However, the RCVS has updated its supporting guidance to clarify that veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses should make appropriate reports, similar to reports for adverse reactions to veterinary medicines. In all cases, for anyone who identifies a potential adverse event we would recommend that they contact the microchip supplier.

The scheme has been set up to ensure that any patterns and trends in adverse events relating to microchip implantation can be identified. This also affects individual implanters, as any adverse events relating to implantation techniques of an individual may lead to them being asked to attend a refresher course before they are allowed to resume implanting, or be stopped from implanting dogs altogether if the Secretary of State deems it necessary.

There are currently three categories listed; reaction, migration and failure.

Reactions include infection, excessive bleeding and any pathology relating to the implantation of a microchip. These are generally due to implantation technique, rather than the microchip itself.

Migration of a microchip from the implant site, or expulsion of a microchip from the animal's body can generally be attributed to implantation technique, such as the microchip not being inserted deep enough, in an incorrect location, or being implanted too high or low.

A potential problem has been identified in relation to reporting microchip migration in dogs, as the compulsory microchipping legislation does not specify where in the dog a microchip should be implanted. Although the vast majority of dogs in the UK are implanted between the shoulder blades, it could have been placed higher up the neck, on the left side of the neck or in some breeds further back, depending on the implanter. This means that any second party scanning a dog may not be able to identify for certain where the microchip was originally implanted, and in these cases the implanter should be consulted to determine the original implant area before migration is reported.

Failure of a microchip is a very rare occurence, and distinguishing a microchip that has failed from a one that has been expelled from the body generally requires some form of diagnostic imaging. If a microchip is found not to be present, i.e it has been expelled from the body, we recommend it is reported under the migration category to the VMD. We would also recommend that no microchip is reported under the failure category unless diagnostic imaging has been carried out to show that a microchip is definitely present in the animal.

We have prepared an information flow chart to offer guidance to anyone who is presented with a non-scanning microchip and to provide guidance for which category the adverse event should be reported under. We would encourage anyone to follow this flow chart before reporting an adverse event to the VMD to ensure all the data submitted is as accurate and correct as possible.

If you need information on how to deal with reporting an adverse event, or are presented with an animal with a non-scanning microchip and are unsure what to do, please contact us on 01962 813 554.

The VMD scheme is described in their leaflet. Adverse events can be reported online here.

To complete the form online the minimum that you will need is the microchip number, the implanter's occupation, the species of the animal and the occupation of the person reporting.

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