FDA tells hospitals to stop using a pump that is vulnerable to hackers

Hospital infusion bagReuters/Fabrizio BenschThe FDA is warning health care facilities against using an infusion pump from Hospira.

The federal government is warning hospitals and other health care facilities to stop using a leading infusion pump because it has a vulnerability that leaves it open to hackers.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement that health care companies should stop using Hospira’s Symbiq medication infusion pump, which is a computerised pump built to deliver drugs to patients in care.

It is the first time the FDA has warned health care facilities to stop using a device because of a cyber risk, the government agency told the AP.

The existing vulnerabilty gives hackers the ability to access the pump remotely through a hospital’s network, which means an unauthorised user could take control of the device and change the dosage of a medicine that the pump delivers, according to the FDA.

The potentially dangerous pump is primarily used in hospitals, but is also used in other facilities like nursing homes and outpatient centres, according to the FDA’s statement on their website.

“Due to recent cybersecurity concerns, the FDA strongly encourages health care facilities to begin transitioning to alternative infusion systems as soon as possible,” the FDA said in a safety alert on its website.

However, while hospitals are transitioning to other products, the FDA said hospitals should consider disconnecting the vulnerable device from their network. But the agency warned this will mean changing some operational practices in the interim.

Tech Insider reached out to Hospira and will update the story as soon as we learn more.

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