An anonymous reader writes: Medical errors linked to the failure of medical device hardware and software may already impair patient health, but little is known about the problem, because it is rarely measured, The Security Ledger reports.(https://securityledger.com/2016/08/silent-epidemic-do-software-errors-already-affect-patient-outcomes/)
Speaking on a panel focused on medical device security at Codenomicon 2016 (http://go.codenomicon.marketing/CodenomiCON-USA-2016.html) in Las Vegas on Tuesday, a group of leading medical device and information security experts said that software errors that affect patient care almost certainly occur, but more needs to be done to identify and measure them if care delivery organizations hope to improve patient outcomes.
“I believe there has already been patient harm,” said Dr. Dale Nordenberg, the co-founder and Executive Director of the Medical Device Innovation, Safety & Security Consortium.
Nordenberg told Security Ledger that discrete interactions that patients have with medical devices each year in healthcare settings in the U.S. numbers in the billions, making errors and malfunctions that affect patient care in some way a certainty.
Only rarely do such incidents warrant notice. In May the Food and Drug Administration published an alert about an incident in which antivirus software caused a medical diagnostic computer to fail in the middle of a cardiac procedure, denying physicians access to data and potentially endangering patient safety. (https://securityledger.com/2016/05/fda-antivirus-crashed-diagnostic-tool-during-heart-procedure/)
Recent news reports have also underscored the fragile nature of many clinical networks. Widespread infections of ransomware like SamSam (http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/samsam-may-signal-new-trend-targeted-ransomware) have crippled clinical networks and forced clinical staff to cancel patient appointments, delay procedures and fall back to paper record keeping.
Despite such incidents, there is no official effort to track the link between software or hardware failures, malicious software infections or user-related errors and patient outcomes.
“In medicine, outcomes drive decisions about what to do, and we don’t have data that’s clear enough to design intervention programs,” Nordenberg told the audience at the event.