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Are Medical Device Manufacturers Liable For Injuries Caused By Hacked Medical Devices?

Apr 5, 2017 | Medical Devices

People who live in the Kansas City area rely on medical device manufacturers and physicians to provide quality healthcare when they need it. For example, some people may require implantable devices in their brain to help with Parkinson’s disease, an implantable defibrillator in case their heart beats out of rhythm or a pacemaker if they suffer from heart failure. While most of these devices work without issue, these technological advances do not come without risk.

Indeed, recent reports suggest that hacked medical devices might be one of the biggest cyber security threats in recent years. Implanted medical devices that rely on wireless connectivity, remote monitoring or near-field communication are especially vulnerable to attack – and over 36,000 of these healthcare-related devices are easily discoverable to potential hackers via an Internet search.

An interconnected world

Many of these advanced medical devices communicate with a central server to receive instructions. These are great tools for medical device manufacturers and physicians because it gives them the ability to download information from these devices that communicate clear statistics about the health of their patients.

Unfortunately, however, these interconnected devices are also prone to hacking by criminals. In this manner, criminals could steal confidential information about patients or even hold their lives random.

Ransomware is a legitimate threat

Ransomware isn’t just a hypothetical threat because it has already been seen in action. For example, criminals have already hacked into hospital systems and frozen their electronic medical record systems using ransomware.

While some people may believe that contacting the police would be a quick way to release the system, hospitals cannot stop working because people’s lives are at risk. This means that hospitals are paying exorbitant amounts of money just to release their system from the hands of hackers. What happens if ransomware is installed in medical devices?

Ransomware in implantable medical devices

People use all sorts of implantable medical devices to provide assistance to vital organs such as their heart, lungs, and brain. If these devices can be hacked, ransomware viruses can be placed in these devices. What happens if a hacker gains control of an implantable medical device? Could they cause the defibrillator to shock a patient inappropriately? Could they cause an implantable brain device to stop working? What happens if they halt the function of a pacemaker? In this fashion, someone’s very life could be held ransom because of a virus in the device.

Should manufacturers of these medical devices be responsible for making sure ransomware viruses aren’t present in these devices before placing them in a patient? A court may think so. Anyone who has questions about the efficacy of their medical device should contact our office for assistance. (816) 221-6400.

Helpful Links

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