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Ransomware and reprocessing lead the ECRI list of top tech hazards

Patient Safety Monitor, February 27, 2018

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 The ECRI Institute published its annual list of the top 10 health technology hazards for the industry. Readers will note that several of the top hazards in 2018 are the same as those in 2017. To guide readers through the hazards, PSMJ spoke to several experts on the top 10 issues and about steps that can be taken to prevent them.

1.    Ransomware and other cybersecurity threats
Summary:
“Malware is a term that refers to a category of software that can compromise the security and privacy of a computer system,” says Frank Ruelas, MBA, principal of HIPAA College in Casa Grande, Arizona. “Ransomware is unique to other malware in that when it infects a computer or computer system, it encrypts files, which makes them unusable. Ransomware then displays a notice to the user that by paying a ransom, the user will then receive a key that will unencrypt the infected files.”

With the WannaCry virus and NotPetya virus striking hospitals worldwide last year, it’s not surprising that cybersecurity tops this year’s list. In a healthcare environment, a malware attack can cause canceled procedures and altered workflows (e.g., forcing staff to revert to paper records). They can also damage equipment and systems, expose sensitive data, and force closures of entire care units. Ultimately, they can compromise or delay patient care, leading to patient harm.

Solutions: “Dealing with ransomware is a classic example of the saying, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ ” Ruelas says. “An organization’s best line of defense regarding ransomware includes efforts to train users on how to identify emails that may present a malware attack.”

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Patient Safety Monitor.