Massive Cyberattack Shuts Down Hospital Computer Systems in Several States – Emergency Rooms Forced to Close and Ambulances Diverted

Image by Cliff Hang from Pixabay

A cyberattack on Thursday caused a significant disruption in hospital computer systems across several U.S. states, leading to the closure of emergency rooms and the diversion of ambulances. Many primary care services remained shut down on Friday as security experts scrambled to determine the extent of the problem and find a resolution.

The attack targeted facilities operated by Prospect Medical Holdings, a Los Angeles-based healthcare provider with hospitals, clinics, and outpatient facilities in Texas, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Southern California.

Recovery can take weeks, according to John Riggi, the national counsel for cybersecurity and risk at the American Hospital Association. In the meantime, hospitals must rely on paper systems and humans to do tasks like monitoring equipment and transferring records across departments.

“These are threat-to-life crimes, which risk not only the safety of the patients within the hospital, but also risk the safety of the entire community that depends on the availability of that emergency department to be there,” Riggi added.

Prospect Medical Holdings operates a total of 16 hospitals and a network comprising more than 165 outpatient facilities and clinics in the affected regions.

California Hospitals

  • Bellflower Behavioral Health Hospital
  • Foothill Regional Medical Center
  • Los Angeles Community Hospital
  • Norwalk Community Hospital
  • Southern California Hospital at Culver City
  • Southern California Hospital at Hollywood
  • Van Nuys Behavioral Health Hospital

Connecticut Hospitals

  • Eastern Connecticut Health System
  • Waterbury Health
  • (ECHN and Waterbury HEALTH are part of Prospect Medical Holdings, which serves 19 towns in eastern Connecticut, including Manchester Memorial Hospital and Rockville General Hospital.)

Pennsylvania Hospital

  • Crozer Health

Rhode Island Hospitals

  • CharterCARE Health Partners

In a statement, Prospect Medical Holdings acknowledged the issue, saying, “Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc. recently experienced a data security incident that has disrupted every Prospect Medical Holdings hospital in the country. Upon learning of this, we took our systems offline to protect them and launched an investigation with the help of third-party cybersecurity specialists.”

“While our investigation continues, we are focused on addressing the pressing needs of our patients as we work diligently to return to normal operations as quickly as possible.We understand the frustration this incident has caused. We ask for your patience as we continue to work with our teams,” it added.

As a direct result of the attack, emergency rooms have been forced to close, and ambulances have been rerouted to other locations. Other healthcare facilities are bearing the brunt of this sudden disruption, potentially causing delays in urgent patient care.

The identity of those responsible for this breach remains unknown.

The FBI field office in Connecticut issued a statement stating they are assisting “law enforcement partners and the victim entities” but that they would be unable to provide any further details about the investigation at this time.

“We are working closely with law enforcement partners and the victim entities to address the issues,” said Robert Fuller, special agent in charge of the New Haven Field Office of the FBI per WTNH.

“At this time there is no further information we can share as this is an ongoing investigation. If and when information can be shared we will do so,” he added.

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