Journal: Medical Software–Dead on Arrival

07 Health, Civil Society, Ethics, Methods & Process, Mobile

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Medical Records: Stored in the Cloud, Sold on the Open Market

Kim Zetter October 19, 2009

When patients visit a physician or hospital, they know that anyone involved in providing their health care can lawfully see their medical records. But unknown to patients, an increasing number of outside vendors that manage electronic health records also have access to that data, and are reselling the information as a commodity.   …

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Giving vendors access to such data would apparently violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which prohibits doctors from providing medical records to anyone not involved in providing health care or payment for health care or involved in health care research. Although the law does provide a loophole for “business associates” hired by health care providers, privacy rights lawyer Robert Gellman told ModernHealthCare that this likely wouldn’t protect health care providers in these cases.   …

According to Sweeney, 87 percent of the U.S. population can be uniquely identified simply from their birthdate, gender and zip code.

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‘Known Software Bug’ Disrupts Brain-Tumor Zapping

Kevin Poulsen October 16, 2009

The maker of a life-saving radiation therapy device has patched a software bug that could cause the system’s emergency stop button to fail to stop, following an incident at a Cleveland hospital in which medical staff had to physically pull a patient from the maw of the machine.

The most notorious medical bug was a “race condition” in the software powering the Therac-25 medical accelerator in the 1980s, which resulted in three patients dying from radiation overdoses from 1985 to 1987.