The evolution of digital technology in the healthcare sector has greatly improved patient outcomes. Innovations like electronic health records and improved communication platforms have made it easier for physicians to exchange information with and treat their patients. We’re even beginning to see next-generation technologies like miniaturized pacemakers and virtual reality incorporated into advanced healthcare systems.

But as new technologies emerge, so too do new challenges. Privacy issues are of particular concern for the healthcare industry, as breaches can lead to reputation issues and potentially a hospital error lawsuit.

According to a recent Hospital News article written by David Masson of Darktrace, a leading cyber security contractor, healthcare recently overtook finance as the most targeted industry by cyber-attackers. The rise, he says, was driven primarily by increased use of inter-connected hospital devices and the digitization of patient records: nearly 70 per cent of clinic doctors use mobile devices to access patient info, and a further 42 per cent uses them to access clinical data.

Masson says there are two primary sources of these attacks: insider threats and ransomware. We discussed the impact of insider threats in a recent blog post covering privacy breaches in GTA hospitals. Ransomware refers to “malicious software that blocks access to a network and the files on it until a ransom is paid for the decryption key,” as Masson describes it. Both forms of breach could warrant a hospital error lawsuit.

Social media use can also threaten patient privacy. Healthcare workers have access to highly personal information that can cause harm if shared publicly. Lawyer Jennifer Fantini recently penned a column which outlined two instances of patient information being shared over social media.

In the first case, an old-age home employee identified, made complaints about, and even posted pictures of residents on her personal blog. The employee failed to exercise appropriate care in doing so, and was terminated.

The second case revolved around a teenage outpatient at Credit Valley Hospital. After an appointment with a mental health professional, the patient tragically jumped to his death from the hospital’s parking garage. A hospital employee was asked to help clean up the scene after the body was removed, and shared pictures of the scene on his Facebook page. While he didn’t identify the patient by name, the employee mentioned the patient’s age and the scene of the accident. The employee was fired for violating patient confidentiality and the hospital’s Code of Conduct. A hospital error lawsuit would not have been out of the question.

If you or a member of your family has been harmed by a hospital privacy breach, it may be in your interest to launch a hospital error lawsuit. Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to find out how we can help.

Photo credit: Jerry Berger/Wikimedia Commons

Greg Neinstein