UHS Computer Systems, Employees Left In The Lurch After Cyberattack

The health giant’s network remained shut down as of Tuesday. Health workers say the outage has made communicating difficult and that they are using paper records and hand-labeling medications. The Wall Street Journal said some ambulances have been re-routed and elective surgeries canceled.


Becker’s Hospital Review:
Employees Describe Chaotic Scene At UHS Hospitals Amid IT Incident


The attack began on Sept. 27, and one nurse told CNBC the computers slowly stopped working. The health system issued a statement on Sept. 28 acknowledging an “IT security issue” and noted its facilities turned to downtime protocols. Employees are now stepping forward to describe the scene inside facilities. A Washington-based clinician working in a UHS facility said medical staff couldn’t easily see lab results, imaging scans and medication lists to make treatment decisions, according to a CBS News report. The facility also reverted to hand-delivering lab orders and phone issues made it challenging for care team communication. “These things are life or death,” the clinician said. (Dyrda, 9/29)

In other stories about IT issues —


Modern Healthcare:
HHS To Track EHR Use Among Office-Based Physicians


HHS is launching an effort to measure health information technology adoption and use among office-based physicians, the department said Tuesday. The initiative will gather national-level data on office-based physicians’ use of health IT systems, including their experiences with interoperability and administrative burden. HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology plans to use the program’s findings to inform future policy decisions. (Cohen, 9/29)

UHS CYBER ATTACK: Universal Health Services says its computer networks knocked offline

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pennsylvania — A computer outage at a major hospital chain thrust healthcare facilities across the U.S. into chaos Monday, with treatment impeded as doctors and nurses already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic were forced to rely on paper backup systems.

Universal Health Services Inc., which operates more than 250 hospitals and other clinical facilities in the U.S., blamed the outage on an unspecified IT “security issue” in a statement posted to its website Monday but provided no details about the incident, such as how many facilities were affected and whether patients had to be diverted to other hospitals.

UHS workers reached by The Associated Press at company facilities in Texas and Washington, D.C. described mad scrambles after the outage began overnight Sunday to render care, including longer emergency room waits and anxiety over determining which patients might be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Fortune 500 company, with 90,000 employees, said “patient care continues to be delivered safely and effectively” and no patient or employee data appeared to have been “accessed, copied or misused.” The King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, company also has hospitals in the United Kingdom, but its operations in that country were not affected, a spokeswoman said Monday night.

John Riggi, senior cybersecurity adviser to the American Hospital Association, called it a “suspected ransomware attack,” affirming stories of people posting to an online Reddit forum who identified themselves as UHS employees.

Criminals have been increasingly targeting the networks of health care institutions during the coronavirus pandemic, infecting networks with malicious code that scrambles data. To unlock it, they demand payment.

Increasingly, ransomware purveyors download data from networks before encrypting targeted servers, using it for extortion. Earlier this month, the first known fatality related to ransomware occurred in Duesseldorf, Germany, after an attack caused