Wireless health care worries privacy commissioners

The push to make Canada's health care system wireless is worrying the country's privacy commissioners

The push to make Canada's health care system wireless is raising the concern of the country's privacy commissioners.

They worry that any kind of medical information, including potentially sensitive material, could end up in the wrong hands.

"I hate to say it but...someone's going to get hacked. There's going to be an accident or a hack somewhere," Alberta's privacy commissioner Frank Work told CBC News.

There's little doubt that electronic health records will make Canada's health care system more efficient, reduce mistakes and save lives.

However, some question the security of the system.

Wireless computer networks use low powered transmitters, making it easier for computer hackers to tap into the signal.

Even though the signals are encrypted, a determined hacker might be able to break in, gaining access to passwords and patient records.

Once in, they could have access to people's private medical data, add or delete information from files, and even post data on the Internet.

One computer security expert believes that hacking into the system would be quite easy.

"The probability that I will be able to break into a password encrypted system is very close to 100 per cent," said Tony Nelson.

However, the risk posed by hackers does not phase doctors who say it is a small price to pay as electronic records will save lives and ease suffering.

"Wireless allows the portability. If I have to plug it in each time, then clearly its not efficient for me," said Dr. Michael Bullard, an emergency room physician.