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FDA warns of security flaw in defective medical device

As more and more health care technology begins to integrate with various online interfaces, some experts warn that California patients could be more at risk than ever. Hackings and cyberattacks can turn otherwise viable tools into a defective medical device, compromising the safety and security of patients who rely on them. Even the FDA has released a statement concerning a specific device that might be exceptionally prone to hacking attempts.

Medication infusion pumps are common staples at the vast majority of hospitals, and now most of them are online. While the pumps might not be updating their Facebook page or connecting on Twitter, they do wirelessly connect to the hospital's computer network. Admittedly, this makes monitoring all of the patients who are receiving IV medications considerably easier, but it also creates a dangerous opportunity for hackers to gain control of those pumps.

It is not just hospital grade IV pumps that are at risk, either. Most personal insulin pumps and pace makers have wireless access, and in many instances, there is no password needed to gain access. Because of the ease of which these medical devices can be accessed, the FDA even cautioned hospitals to stop using certain IV pumps that are especially vulnerable.

With a bit of computer knowledge, a potential hacker could gain access to both commercial and personal health care tools, rending them useless or dangerous. The ease with which an otherwise effective item can become a defective medical device is somewhat frightening, especially when a person's medical treatment is on the line. Should a California patient be injured due to a security flaw in a medical tool, he or she could likely cite that flaw as part of a product liability suit against the manufacturer and/or other parties along the computer supply chain.

Source:, "Any medical device connected to the Internet is vulnerable to Hacking", Jenee' Ryan, Aug. 6, 2015

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