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Is Your Wireless Heart Device Vulnerable to Hacking or Cyber Attacks?

November 6, 2019Medical Devices

Recently, Jeff Rossen of NBC News aired a story of a vehicle’s computer system being hacked where the hacker was able to actually stop and steer the vehicle without regard to the driver’s steering and braking inputs. Now, aside from vehicles, we have concerns about hacking in other products – heart devices.

Heart devices that function through wireless communication or software may be vulnerable to hacker attacks or other forms of cyber terrorism, which could create potential life-threatening malfunctions, according to recent interviews with some concerned U.S. cardiologists.

Medical devices have been targets of hacking attacks for years. The growing demand for these wireless devices and corresponding software has increased the risk of hackers reprogramming the devices to make them intentionally malfunction. They can also delay or obstruct information utilized by a patient’s doctor when attempting to monitor the patients’ medical condition remotely and even drain the device’s battery.

The good news is that even though some doctors are concerned with the potential hacking threat, to date, there has not been a documented case of a cardiac device being hacked in an actual patient. Yet in a proactive effort to avoid such issues, U.S regulators have alerted manufacturers of the vulnerability of remote monitoring, the potential for malfunction, and the issues involving cybersecurity.

Aside from other medical devices, defibrillators raise additional concerns for cardiologists. These devices are implanted in patients to prevent deaths caused by cardiac arrest. Their vulnerability to hacking could transmit excess shocks to the heart or alternatively fail to respond with necessary shocks in an emergency. Either of these scenarios could result in life-threatening medical events.

The only way to limit the risk of hacking is to use devices that do not allow remote software updates or wireless communications and monitoring. However, patients benefit from remote technology because such technology can make these devices work more efficiently, as well as permit updates and adjustments without repeated surgery.

Despite the risks, health professionals have concluded the benefits of using remote monitoring and wireless communications in these devices surpass the risk of malicious hacking. We can only hope that the manufacturers of these devices take all necessary steps and precautions available to minimize the hacking threat.

Houston Medical Device Produtcts Liability Attorneys

The development of medical devices has allowed people to live longer, more comfortable lives. However, if a medical device is poorly designed or manufactured incorrectly, it can end up hurting a patient more than helping. Sadly, Ramsey Law Group has seen all too often the pain and suffering that having a defective medical device can bring to a person and his or her family. If you or a loved one has suffered because of a defective medical device, we’re here to help. Contact the Houston area personal injury lawyers at Ramsey Law Group today to schedule a consultation.