Arizona physicians prepare for cyberattacks on medical devices

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The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix held a CyberMed Summit in December to help physicians prepare for cyberattacks on medical devices, according to

During the summit, physicians participated in simulations involving medical devices undergoing a cyberattack, including pacemakers and CT scanners.

Two Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix graduates led the summit, calling themselves "ethical hackers" who don't want to scare patients out of getting a pacemaker. The benefits of pacemakers significantly outweigh the risks of a cyberattack, they said.

However, patients and health professionals must recognize that any device with connectivity can be vulnerable to tampering, said summit leader Christian Dameff, MD, a clinical informatics fellow at the University of California San Diego and Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix alumnus.

"I come from a generation of doctors that never used paper charts. We are so dependent on the technology," Dr. Dameff said. "We need to make doctors realize how dependent they are on this technology and to have a backup plan if it should fail. Because what we don't want is for patient care to suffer."

The summit marks the second time Dr. Dameff and fellow conference leader Jeff Tully, MD, brought together clinicians, regulators, policymakers, medical device makers and hospital IT directors to improve security.

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