Hacking goes to new and deadly limits
Jacqueline Vance, RN
Everyone with a pulse is aware of hacking vulnerability. From insurance companies to major big box stores and even banks, we'd have to be dead if we didn't realize how unsafe our secure information is. I myself was violated this year. I went to file my taxes only to find out — “SURPRISE!” — our taxes were already filed.
Turns out my insurance carrier had been hacked and someone got access to my Social Security number. What a nightmare this has been. Most of us felt that our vulnerability was limited to finances. Sometime I am amazed at how naive I am!
You see, I recently read several articles (just Google it — tons show up) that say medical devices, including those medication IV pumps, can be hacked into.
They are wired into the hospital's pharmacy, which sets the limits according to the drug hanging. Guess what, kids? Anyone on the hospital's network — including a patient in the hospital or a hacker accessing the pumps over the Internet — can load a new drug library to the pumps that can alter the limits, allowing the delivery of a deadly dosage.
What scares me even more is that this may force us nurses to go back to basic mathematical calculations! I mean, how long has that been since we've had to do that? That's why the pumps were invented in the first place – mistake proof and no one could mess with them.
Well, I know I always joke that laughter is the best medicine, except after surgery. Then I want the hard stuff. But for now … maybe I'll go for the light stuff and a laugh. Because hacking into an IV pumping a narcotic, this scares the “dump” of me.
Just keeping it real
The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.