Digitally networked medical devices are now part of the health care infrastructure at many hospitals and that’s putting data on the devices--and the hospital network--at risk, says Dale Nordenberg, M.D., founder of the Medical Device Innovation, Safety and Security Consortium, which focuses on the safety and security of devices and electronic health records.

“Medical devices are operating on networks to a degree that no one planned,” Nordenberg told attendees at the federally sponsored Safeguarding Health Information Conference in Washington. Consequently, threats to the integrity of data or programs, causing a lack of operational effectiveness, can directly harm patients. And tens of millions of patients each year have treatment that includes a variety of devices.   Medical devices also can expose a provider’s network to further breaches, notes Nordenberg, principal at consulting firm Novasano Health and Science.  The MDISS Consortium, founded in recent months, is working to define the scope of medical device security and safety issues, such as the rate of problems with implantable defibrillators and linear accelerators.

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