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Cyberattack Disrupts Emergency Services at Multiple Hospitals

Cybercriminals targeted the computer systems of a California-based health care provider, causing emergency rooms in multiple states to temporarily close and redirecting ambulance services.

The ransomware attack took place at Prospect Medical Holdings of Los Angeles, which operates hospitals and clinics in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas. Prospect Medical is currently investigating the breach and working to resolve the issue, according to a statement released on Friday.

“Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc. recently experienced a data security incident that has disrupted our operations. 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,” the company stated.

The FBI has also launched an investigation into the breach, as announced late on Friday.

“We continue to encourage anyone who thinks they are a victim of this incident to report to ic3.gov or your local FBI field office,” stated the agency.

CBS News reported that the Crozer-Chester Medical System in Springfield, Pennsylvania, has reverted to a paper system due to the majority of their computers being offline. The computers are not expected to be back online until next week, according to the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. Two hospitals in Rhode Island, Roger Williams Medical Center and Our Lady of Fatima, were also affected by the attack, according to a law enforcement official cited by CBS News.

Globally, the healthcare industry continues to be the primary target for cyberattacks, according to IBM’s annual report on data breaches. In the year ending in March, the healthcare sector experienced the most expensive breaches, averaging $11 million each. This is nearly double the average impact on the second-largest sector, finance, which experiences losses of $5.9 million per breach.

John Riggi, the American Hospital Association’s senior cybersecurity advisor, explained that the recovery process can often take weeks. In the meantime, hospitals resort to paper systems and rely on humans to monitor equipment and manually transfer records between departments.


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Elective surgeries, urgent care centers closed

As a result of the data breach, emergency departments at Manchester Memorial and Rockville General in Connecticut were forced to close on Thursday. Patients were redirected to nearby medical centers. Prospect Medical-owned healthcare facilities are currently experiencing IT complications, leading to the closure of many services, including elective surgeries and urgent care, as stated on the company’s website. Podiatry, wound care, women’s wellness, and gastroenterology services have also been suspended.

“Our computer systems are down with the outage affecting all Waterbury Health inpatient and outpatient operations,” posted Prospect Medical’s hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut on Facebook. “We are in the process of reevaluating our downtime capabilities and may reschedule some appointments. Affected patients will be contacted.”

In Pennsylvania, services at Crozer Health facilities, including the Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland and Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park, were impacted by the attack. Last year, Crozer closed vital healthcare services at Springfield Hospital and Delaware County Memorial Hospital, according to the Delaware County website.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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