Baltimore Medical Product Liability Lawyers Discuss Security Issues Linked to Medical Devices

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising healthcare facilities to stop using certain medical devices because of a cybersecurity risk. The FDA warned that devices linked to the Internet are vulnerable to hackers that could potentially gain access to the device, creating a serious risk of harm to patients.

Specific warnings were issued to hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities using Hospira’s Symbiq medication infusion pump. The device is used to deliver medications directly into the bloodstream of patients over extended periods of time. Experts claim that hackers could potentially gain unauthorized access to the device’s settings and change the dosage the pump delivers, which could lead to an over- or under-infusion of critical patient therapies.

The FDA has been aware of security vulnerabilities in medical devices for some time now. In 2012, the United States Government Accountability Office issued a report focused on the growing concern of security threats to medical devices with wireless capabilities, including implantable cardioverter defibrillators and insulin pumps. The report identified three key intentional threats to active implantable medical devices. These include unauthorized access with the intention of altering signals sent wirelessly to the medical device; installation of malware designed to carry out annoying or harmful actions; and a denial-of-service attack that makes the device unusable by either slowing or blocking functionality or draining the device’s battery. The report also addressed concerns that devices without an appropriate authentication process or authorization procedure could be at risk for unintentional changes caused by a careless or negligent caregiver.

The Hospira pump is the first device that the FDA has warned caregivers to stop using, but it is unlikely the last. Symbiq is just one of about two dozen medical devices with possible cyber vulnerabilities currently under review by the FDA and the Department of Homeland Security. These devices use hardware, software, and networks to monitor a patient’s medical status and transmit and receive data using wireless communication. These features can make it easier for a doctor to treat a patient remotely and can reduce the number of medical mistakes attributed to human error. However, if efforts are not taken to protect the device against information security risks, these benefits could be significantly outweighed by the potential for harm caused by hackers.

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Successfully Represent Those Harmed By Dangerous Medical Devices

Manufacturers, retailers, and users of life saving medical devices have a duty to ensure that patients are protected from harm caused by the malicious or careless actions of others. If you or someone you love has suffered an unexpected illness or injury while in the hospital or under the care of a physician, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Law Offices of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton today schedule your free case review with one of our experienced and highly skilled Maryland medical malpractice lawyers. A member of our qualified legal team is available to answer your questions 24 hours a day by calling 800-547-4LAW (4529) or you can contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson, allowing us to represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.