Cyberattack forced US hospital to cancel surgeries


Florida hospital operator, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (THM), was hit with a cyberattack, forcing the organization to cancel surgical procedures and fall back on paper.

THM noticed an “IT security issue” impacting its systems on late February 2. The organization that operates a 772-bed hospital and several healthcare institutions was forced to turn its systems offline.

The day after the attack, the hospital stopped taking non-emergency patients as a result of IT downtime. The organization said it would only take critical cases, canceling and rescheduling all non-emergency surgical and outpatient procedures.

“All non-emergency/elective procedures for Monday, Feb. 6 will be canceled and rescheduled. Patients will be contacted directly by their provider and/or care facility if their appointment is affected,” THM said in a statement.

On February 5, the hospital was still working under downtime procedures, which according to THM, means “using paper documentation.”

While the organization does not discuss the nature of the attack, the prolonged shutdown of IT systems and the use of paper may indicate a ransomware attack.

“Our investigation is ongoing and, as is typical in such situations, we expect it will take some time to determine exactly what happened,” THM said.

Ransomware gangs often target hospitals as healthcare organizations are susceptible to downtime. For example, a French hospital has been forced to transfer intensive care patients after suffering a cyberattack.

Threat actors rationalize that hospitals will quickly succumb to ransomware demands to not inflict damage on their patients. The report shows that ransomware attacks over the past couple of years impacted up to 66% of hospitals.

The intensity of attacks has been growing recently to the point where insurance companies refuse to take in healthcare clients or leave the market segment altogether.


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