FCC Faces Questions Concerning Safety of Wireless Medical Devices

Officials from congress have requested that the government investigate the potential risks posed by wireless medical devices.

This past Monday, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Congressman Ed Markey sent a letter requesting that the Government Accountability Office investigate the potential risks posed by wireless medical devices.

In the letter, the House Energy and Commerce Committee members stated that they were concerned over the “safety, security and reliability” of the lifesaving devices, including pacemakers, intravenous pumps, and blood pressure cuffs.

This call to action follows an event that has garnered much publicity in the past two weeks. A researcher by the name of Jay Radcliffe managed to “hack” his own insulin pump used to treat his diabetes. Not only was Radcliffe then able to control the administration of insulin through this pump, he was able to do it with frightening ease, using only a USB device and some hacking skills.

"My initial reaction was that this was really cool from a technical perspective," Radcliffe reported. "The second reaction was one of maybe sheer terror, to know that there's no security around the devices which are a very active part of keeping me alive."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has previously revealed existing software and design errors as critical concerns in investigating hundreds of deaths possibly linked to drug pumps.

Eshoo and Markey questioned the FCC as to whether the agency was working on bettering regulatory processes in order to guarantee the safety of wireless medical devices. They also asked the administration whether the commission is collaborating with FDA on its oversight activities.

"In bringing forward innovative wireless technologies and devices for health care, it's critical that these devices are able to operate together and with other hospital equipment, and not interfere with each other's activities and data transmissions,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote. “It's also important that such devices operate in a safe, reliable, and secure manner.”