Cyberattacks Disrupt Critical Healthcare Services

Between disrupted services and down time, affected healthcare facilities can be left reeling from cyber incidents.

By Jeff Wardon, Jr., Assistant Editor

With healthcare facilities caught in the crosshairs of many cyberattacks, the effects of these events are becoming more understood as they disrupt healthcare services. 

An Oceanside, California hospital experienced troublesome effects after falling victim to a cyberattack. 

According to ABC 10News, on Thursday, November 9, Oceanside’s Tri-City Medical Center was caught up in a cyberattack that crippled the hospital’s daily functions. The hospital had to divert ambulances to other healthcare facilities due to the disruption. A spokesperson for the hospital described the entire situation as an “internal disaster.” 

The hospital is currently conducting a forensic analysis and said it would share updates as they come, according to a news release from Tri-City Medical Center

The Tri-City Medical Center was not the only healthcare facility that felt the effects of a cyberattack. HealthAlliance Hospital, Margaretville Hospital and Mountainside Residential Care were forced to redirect ambulances to other facilities after services were disrupted by a cyberattack. Fortunately, the hospitals were able to keep regular services such as walk-in patient care up and running during their down times. 

While some cases can be solved in a matter of days, other healthcare facilities have had to face longer stretches of downtime because of the attacks. According to a study from Comparitech, between 2016 and mid-October 2023, the overall down time totaled to 6,347 days just from ransomware attacks alone. That is almost 17 and a half years of total down time for healthcare facilities in the past seven years. 

When these systems are down, it can also limit access to crucial patient information, which in turn can impact the quality of care a patient receives. 

 “Doctors and nurses are suddenly left in a position of making life and death decisions without access to the right information,” Nilesh Chandra, U.S. healthcare analytics lead at PA Consulting previously told Healthcare Facilities Today. “The potential for all kinds of harm happening to patients just goes up very, very significantly. That is the real impact of these cybersecurity breaches.” 

Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market. 

November 22, 2023

Topic Area: Maintenance and Operations , Security

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