A large hospital chain in the United States has been suffering from a serious security breach that has led to its computer records going offline. What appears to be a ransomware attack it could be affecting the quality of medical care provided, possibly even putting lives at risk.
According to industry-focused news site HealthCareDive, the attack was described as an IT incident by CommonSpirit Health and reported on October 3, 2022. This is a huge hospital chain with 1,000 care sites and 140 hospitals across the country, so thousands of patients are seen affected. The current solution, according to a statement on the website by CommonSpirit Healthhas been to disconnect certain systems.
Like the rest of us, doctors and nurses are used to 21st-century technology and have come to rely on computerized records to care for patients, plan care options, and organize data. Going back to paper in an already hectic health system must make the job tortuous. We’ll never know how many critical details slip through the cracks during a busy day.
Even more concerning, patient services are being delayed as additional time must be taken to verify information in this chaotic work environment. TheVerge summarized with examples of a patient whose surgery was delayed and another patient who was unable to obtain a CT scan despite a brain hemorrhage.
The large hospital chain run by CommonSpirit Health was reportedly hit recently with a ransomware attack, involving hackers gaining access to sensitive information and threatening to destroy or distribute the data if a fee is not paid. The difficulty in solving these types of problems is that there is no guarantee that paying the ransom will help. On the other hand, if your IT team can’t recover critical information and there’s no backup, there’s no other option.
This is not the first time a ransomware attack has undermined the US healthcare industry, and the frequency of attacks appears to be increasing. Cybersecurity is a growing concern across all industries, but when it comes to health, it can be a life-threatening incident.