Hospital Security Breaches Causing Increased Patient Death Rate

Deaths in America from heart disease are on the rise as a 2016 report warned

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. But after nearly three decades in decline, the number of deaths from heart disease has increased in recent years, a new federal report shows.

Now a new study called “Data breach remediation efforts and their implications for hospital quality” (PDF) reports that a service quality decline increases death rates for patients with heart disease.

Breach remediation efforts were associated with deterioration in timeliness of care and patient outcomes. Remediation activity may introduce changes that delay, complicate or disrupt health IT and patient care processes.

More specifically the study authors counted 36 more dead per 10,000 heart attacks every year due to security breaches, based on hundreds of hospitals examined. It even boils the data down to showing any care center with a breach will experience an electrocardiogram delay of 2.7 minutes for suspected heart attack patients.

Given the huge rise of ransomware since 2015, traced to weak security management practices of database companies, is there a case now to be made that software development is directly culpable for a rise in human deaths?

To put this in perspective, fewer people die from service delays (availability) than from mistakes (integrity), yet downstream integrity is impacted by availability. Medicals error studies call disruptions and mistakes the third leading cause of death in America.

A recent Johns Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors. Other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 440,000.

Avoiding death from heart disease, which requires fast response and critical decision-making without error, becomes even harder to ensure as system availability declines due to breaches.

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