A hospital situated near Kansas City, Missouri, has encountered significant challenges in delivering patient care this week following a cyberattack that severely impacted its systems. Liberty Hospital provided an update on Wednesday, confirming that the disruptions to its computer systems, initiated on Tuesday, persisted. Initially, the hospital had to transfer some patients to alternative healthcare facilities, but authorities asserted that the situation has since stabilized.
In the latest update on Wednesday, December 20th, 2023, Liberty Hospital emphasized its commitment to patient safety and care, acknowledging the ongoing investigation into the source of the disruption. Despite employing standard downtime protocols to care for patients overnight, no additional transfers to other facilities occurred. The hospital acknowledged the time-consuming process of restoring its systems and prioritized rescheduling appointments for affected patients in both primary and specialty care clinics. Prescription refill requests were directed to patients’ providers.
On Tuesday, the hospital issued an advisory urging individuals in need of medical care to seek assistance from other hospitals. Reports indicated that patients were indeed transferred to different facilities, with emergency services, including the Kansas City Fire Department, playing a role in patient transfers.
The hospital attributed its challenges to the inability to document patient care during the computer system outage, adding that the duration of the issue remains uncertain. Doctors are actively contacting patients with scheduled appointments to explore alternative arrangements. Local news outlets interviewed frustrated patients who learned of appointment rescheduling only upon arriving at the hospital.
Liberty Hospital, a public hospital located about 20 minutes from Kansas City, employs over 1,900 staff members. While the hospital did not respond to inquiries regarding the nature of the cyberattack, reports indicated that officials received a ransom note threatening the release of confidential data unless contacted within 72 hours.
This incident, occurring during the holiday season, underscores a troubling trend of ransomware attacks targeting healthcare facilities throughout the year, with numerous hospitals diverting ambulances and shutting down departments, posing risks to thousands of lives.
Hospitals, insurers, and providers of medical services are increasingly vulnerable to malicious cybercriminal activity. Private health records may be breached, patient care disrupted through ransomware attacks, and IoT monitoring data manipulated to create chaos and confusion. Healthcare organizations’ cyber risk scenarios must be diagnosed and understood quickly to prioritize remediation and risk reduction.
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