What is Medjacking?

Not even Kurt Vonnegut or Harlan Ellison imagined this: heart attack by hacking.  Seriously. A new word has entered the language of medicine: medjacking.

Here’s a scenario: the President of the United States has a pacemaker. Not-so-friendly hackers, probably paid millions by an enemy nation, figure out how to remotely control the device. The President has a pacemaker malfunction and dies while the enemy enters our borders. Not sure even Jack Bauer could fix this in 24 hours.

How is this possible? Just like hackers can steal personal information (or even release lists of potential “cheaters” from Ashley Madison), any device controlled by a computer can potentially be hacked. The FDA and, yes, the Department of Homeland Security have issued a warning about Hospira’s Symbiq infusion pump.

The computerized pumps are designed to remotely deliver medication as needed to the patient through a hospital’s computer system. Through hacking, the dosage could be changed or even stopped, without the knowledge of the patient, leading to serious medical issues.

One University doctor is creating strategies to prevent malicious medical device hacking but the potential is so serious that, in addition to the agencies already mentioned, several others have formed a committee to study the problem. Its goal, according to the doctor, is to keep science fiction just that fiction.

While no reports of unauthorized use have surfaced in Texas or elsewhere, the potential risk is real. Health care facilities have been strongly encouraged to discontinue their use of the product. The manufacturer has also offered patients an added  layer of security while they remain on the market.

Any type of product on the market can have dangerous, even deadly, consequences when manufacturers fail to detect a potential failure before releasing it to consumers. If you are concerned about the danger of a medical device, or have been injured any other type of product, legal action may be possible to compensate you for any injuries. Contact an attorney with experience in this area of the law to investigate your options.