Healthcare Havoc: Idaho Hospitals Forced to Divert Ambulances After Cyber Attack

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Idaho ambulances cyber attack

Three hospitals in Idaho have been forced to divert ambulances to nearby hospitals after hackers compromised critical internal computer systems. 

The attack struck Mountain View Hospital, Idaho Falls Community Hospital and several clinics across rural Idaho on Monday, forcing doctors and nurses to document patient charts on pen and paper. 

“Idaho Falls Community Hospital will divert ambulances to nearby hospitals and normal workflows may look a little different. Patients will be contacted by their provider if their appointments are impacted,” Idaho Falls Community Hospital’s parent facility, Mountain View Hospital, said in a statement.

Hospital Brian Ziel said the hospital is still caring for patients, with staff “working around the clock” to restore computer systems.

It’s also unclear when the hospital will be able to accept patients by ambulance or how many ambulances have been diverted, Ziel said, adding that the emergency department is accepting walk-in patients.

It was not immediately clear if the hack involved ransomware that locked computers so that hackers can demand payments. Ziel said he was not aware of any ransom demand made to the hospital.

“Both hospitals remain open and are safely caring for all their patients and the vast majority of clinics are seeing patients as usual,” Mountain View Hospital’s statement continued. 

“Fortunately, our IT team identified the attack quickly and took immediate action to limit the impacts and keep all patient information safe and secure.”

Attack on Healthcare

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, ransomware and other cyber attacks ramped up on the public sector, with hospitals often ill-equipped to deal with them falling victim to attacks

In 2022, a large-scale ransomware attack on the British National Health Service (NHS) affected over 5.5 million patients across Scotland, England and Wales, forcing doctors and medical staff to keep patient files on pieces of paper and email for months as systems remained offline until mid-October. 

The threat actors used ransomware software LockBit 3.0 to attack Advanced, the company behind the Adastra patient management software used by the NHS, and force vital systems offline.

In the US Hackers from North Korea, Russia and Iran have all targeted healthcare providers in recent years in a bid to wring money out of organizations that can ill-afford to be disrupted. 

Tech giant Microsoft in April used a federal court order to try to cut off cybercriminals’ access to a hacking tool that it discovered had been used in nearly 70 ransomware attacks on health organizations in more than 19 countries.

Federal officials and healthcare experts have long been concerned that ransomware attacks can degrade the quality of care that patients receive at hospitals. 

A recent study by doctors at the University of California, San Diego, found that a ransomware attack on a local health system has ripple effects on regional hospitals, increasing emergency waiting room times and extending patients’ stay in the hospital.

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