Electronic health records could be a deadly target during a cyberwar
Most health officials worry about hackers stealing sensitive information such as an AIDS diagnosis from someone’s electronic medical record, but a technology manager for a health care system in the Pacific Northwest said it’s just as likely the digital files could be a target of terrorists or a nation state during war.
Countries have invested millions of dollars in computer systems to conduct a cyberwar against the United States “and the best way to do that is to destabilize the population,” said Chad Skidmore, director of network services for Inland Northwest Health Services, a network of 34 hospitals in Spokane, Wash. To do that, hackers could infiltrate health systems to change patient records so misinformation will lead to deadly consequences.
Skidmore, speaking on Friday before a health IT standards committee organized by the Health and Human Services Department, said what “keeps me up night and fairly scared” is that an attacker could get into a system and, for example, change data fields that indicate patients who have an allergy to penicillin do not have an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. About 400 patients in the United States die each year from penicillin allergies, according to the Web site Wrong Diagnosis.