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Opinion : Is it wise to store medical records on computers?

| May 12, 2017

Ever since the computer was invented my good self has been sceptical of the advantages of the newfangled technology.

Yours truly arrived home on Friday evening and, completely exhausted after a busy day at work, paused to rest for a moment in my favourite armchair to listen to the news on the radio.

The headlines were all about a large cyberised attack affecting the NHS computer systems resulting in the declaration of a major incident in some parts of the NHS.

From what yours truly can make out the data contents of many computer machines have been scrambled and the only way to retrieve the information is to pay a ransom to the hackers who have taken over the computers.

Potentially patient records, medical histories and other clinical information has been lost. It was being reported that ‘up to 25 NHS organisations and some GP practices have been affected‘.

By George! The naughty computer hacking rascals have really caused some chaos this time.

Just think of the impact the loss of the computerised records will have to those needing urgent medical treatment.

Of course if the hackers were able to gain access to the computer to encrypt the data then the question has to be asked if they also removed the data before it was encrypted in which case confidential records could possibly be in the hands of undesirables?

Would you be happy to know that in the future you may be given treatment based on medical records that hacking criminals had, at some point in time, had access to? How would you know if the hackers had changed anything in the records that could affect your treatment in later life?

Questions must surely be asked about the quality of a computer system if it is vulnerable to such attacks.

Sadly this isn’t the first time that medical information has been embroiled in a scandal as was revealed in an article that appeared on a national newspaper site earlier this year entitled ‘Security breach fears over 26 million NHS patients‘.

In my opinion it would be far better if the computers that rule our lives were abandoned in favour of the trusty paper records. After all paper records can not be hijacked by hackers demanding a ransom and they can’t get spread all over the internet either.

A few years ago a friend of mine needed to get confirmation, for a new employer, of medical treatment they had received some 40 years previously which had been recorded on paper.

Unfortunately in the intervening time the paper records had been computerised however the computer only stored information going back some 20 years. As a result my friend lost the job and suffered a setback in their career.

It’s about time everyone was given the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of computerised medical records and return to paper, indeed personally I would prefer to ‘opt out’ of the computerised world altogether.

Let the gullible ones who think computers are safe continue with the digital experiment and let the wise and cautious people like my good self have the safety of a paper based life.

What do you think?

My blogs are published every Tuesday and Friday evening around 8.00pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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