Password compliance for PACS work stations: Implications for emergency-driven medical environments

  • T.B. Mahlaola
  • B van Dyk


Background. The effectiveness of password usage in data security remains an area of high scrutiny. Literature findings do not inspire confidence in the use of passwords. Human factors such as the acceptance of and compliance with minimum standards of data security are considered significant determinants of effective data-security practices. However, human and technical factors alone do not provide solutions if they exclude the context in which the technology is applied.

Objectives. To reflect on the outcome of a dissertation which argues that the minimum standards of effective password use prescribed by the information security sector are not suitable to the emergency-driven medical environment, and that their application as required by law raises new and unforeseen ethical dilemmas.

Method. A close-ended questionnaire, the Picture Archiving and Communication System Confidentiality Scale (PAC-CS) was used to collect quantitative data from 115 health professionals employed in both a private radiology and a hospital setting. The PACS-CS sought to explore the extent of compliance with accepted minimum standards of effective password usage.

Results. The percentage compliance with minimum standards was calculated. A significant statistical difference (p<0.05) between the expected and observed data-security practices was recorded.

Conclusion. The study interrogates the suitability of adherence to minimum standards of effective password usage in an emergency-driven medical environment and calls for much-needed debate in this area.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1999-7639