Oct 24, 2014

Feds examining medical devices for fatal cybersecurity flaws

10-24-2014 National:

They could be controlled remotely, overdose patients, or thwart heart implants.

It was an eerie tale. Former US Vice President Dick Cheney announced last year that he disabled the wireless function of the implanted heart defibrillator amid fears it could be exploited by terrorists wanting to kill him.

Cheney's announcement put a face to the fear of possible medical-device hacking exploits, and researchers and the federal government were slowly realizing there were genuine vulnerabilities associated with these implanted devices. They are equipped with computerized functions and wireless capabilities that allow the devices to be administered without requiring additional surgery, and therefore they could be vulnerable to hacker exploit.

Cheney's move may have seemed far-fetched, but his paranoia is being confirmed, as the Department of Homeland Security is now probing potential cybersecurity flaws in certain medical devices.

"The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) works directly with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and medical devices manufacturers, health care professionals, and facilities to investigate and address cyber vulnerabilities. DHS actively collaborates with public and private sector partners every day to identify and reduce adverse impacts on the nation’s critical cyber systems," DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee wrote Thursday to Ars.

Oct 22, 2014

Courts keeping mentally ill inmates longer than law allows, audit claims

10-22-2014 Utah:

SALT LAKE CITY — An audit of the Utah State Hospital has found that patients undergoing mental competency evaluations have been kept much longer than state law allows.

The revelation was in an audit of Utah’s Department of Human Services budget that was presented to the Utah State Legislature’s Audit Subcommittee on Tuesday. It found that over the past five years, 64 patients had been kept for more than the state maximum one year stay.

“The longest stay was just over two-and-a-half years,” the audit said.

Under Utah law, the state hospital’s forensic program can keep people accused of third-degree felonies and misdemeanors for up to a year. Capital murder and first- and second-degree felonies can be kept up to 18 months, at which point a judge must review it.

The audit noted that what happens with a defendant “is ultimately the judge’s decision.”

Oct 17, 2014

What the dying really regret

10-17-2014 National:

Editor's note: Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain in South Carolina and the author of "Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago."

(CNN) -- "I know I'm supposed to hate my body," the patient said in her soothing Southern drawl.

She pushed away her lunch, a brown lump and pile of orange. Her son spent a lot of money to have low-fat, no-sodium, no-sugar, low-calorie meals delivered to the house while he was at work and she was home alone.

They looked like piles of wet rocks.

"I really could die happy if I was allowed just one more bite of caramel cake," she said with a sigh. The woman was dying of cancer, and I was her chaplain. "I don't suppose you have any?"

"No, sorry. But why are you supposed to hate your body?"

Medical Causes of Death in State Prisons, 2001-2004

January 21, 2007 NCJ 216340

Describes the specific medical conditions causing deaths in state prisons nationwide during a four-year period. For the leading medical causes of death, mortality rates are presented by gender, age, race and Hispanic origin, and the length of time served in prison.

The report includes detailed statistics on cancer deaths. Mortality among older prisoners is examined in detail. Prisoner death rates are compared with rates in the general U.S. resident population. Data on medical treatments provided for these fatal illnesses are presented, along with findings on the presence of medical problems at time of admission to prison.

State-by-state mortality rates are presented for the leading causes of illness deaths in appendix tables. Detailed data tables are included in the electronic version. ..Source.. by Christopher J. Mumola