Rise in Ransomware Attacks Shines Light on Patient Safety Concerns

Rise in Ransomware Attacks Shines Light on Patient Safety Concerns

Posted Oct 28, 2021 from

Ransomware attacks on hospitals have direct consequences on hospital operations. Some facilities have been forced to divert ambulances, shut down computer systems and cut off access to EHRs. 

What is less direct, is the effects of cyberattacks on patient outcomes, safety and whether they create increased mortality rates. As the harm of ransomware moves beyond reputational and encroaches on patient safety, Becker's spoke with CIOs and patient safety groups to further examine the connection.

Direct connections between patient safety and ransomware attacks

A report by the Ponemon Institute surveyed 597 IT and IT security professionals in healthcare delivery organizations to analyze how COVID-19 and ransomware attacks have affected healthcare delivery. Twenty-two percent of respondents from healthcare organizations reported increased mortality rates resulting from ransomware attacks.

A lawsuit alleges a July 2019 ransomware attack on Springhill Medical Center in Mobile, Ala., resulted in a baby's death. Springhill had shut down its network for nearly eight days because of a ransomware attack. 

In the lawsuit, the baby's mother alleges her daughter was born at the hospital with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. The baby suffered severe brain damage because the umbilical cord became wrapped around her neck, and she died nine months later. The suit alleges the ransomware attack disrupted how the nurses could monitor the baby's heart rate at the nurses' station. The hospital has denied wrongdoing.


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