Are Cyberattacks Putting Patient Safety at Risk?

Posted on February 29, 2016 by Shapiro Law Group


One of the greatest dangers facing patient safety can be found over the internet. There have been recent cases of hospital computers being hacked. Hackers take control of hospital computer systems and then demand a ransom.

The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was the most recent target of hackers. According to the hospital, hackers scrambled patient files, making them unreadable. Only a specific key code supplied by the hackers would allow the hospital to regain access to vital patient files. The hackers demanded a $3.6 million ransom to release control back to the hospital, but ultimately settled for $17,000 instead.

Cyberattacks on hospitals are a scary prospect of healthcare in the 21st century, and some researchers believe patient safety could suffer. In the case we just discussed, doctors and other health care professionals were unable to access critical patient files.

Cyberattacks on medical devices used at hospitals are another future possibility. A computer science professor from Johns Hopkins University claims MRIs, drug dispensing machines and other vital equipment could be hacked.

What do these devices have in common? Every device we have mentioned can be connected to the internet, opening the door for malicious hackers.

Will Cyberattacks on Medical Devices and Hospitals Become More Common?

It is possible patient safety could evolve over the next decade, as more complex and high tech medical devices are used in hospitals. Hospitals are also more plugged in to the internet than ever, in some cases leaving vulnerabilities like the one we saw occur at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.

As modern medicine continues to rely on high tech medical devices and the internet, protecting patients from cyberattacks should become a major priority.

Tags: HospitalSafety


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