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Stopping ransomware continues to be a problem for Scripps Health

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A ransomware attack continued to plague Scripps Health on May 3, confusing patients and their families, especially those scheduled to have appointments this week.

After struggling to regain control of his systems since the May 1 incident, Scripps said two days later that he still had not addressed technical terrorism that was taking his patient records, his planning offline. and other critical systems, forcing medical personnel into hospitals and other facilities. to get back to paper for now.

No specific timeline for when things could return to some semblance of normalcy has been offered.

Scripps has yet to confirm that ransomware malware capable of holding digital assets hostage under a demand for cash caused the outage. however, The San Diego Union-Tribune got an internal memo that involves this particular attack route, which also apparently affected the Scripps backup servers in Arizona.

The internet forums were filled with Scripps patients looking for more information on when they could find out more about what would happen with appointments made before the weekend.

Noah Tyler said he was due to undergo an esophageal diagnostic procedure and was due to receive the appointment location over the weekend via the Scripps electronic patient portal. But access to this scheduling system stagnated after the attack, and calls to the after-hours Scripps help line on May 2 made it clear that no one had access to the scheduling system.

They couldn’t even search for basic information. They were obviously flabbergasted, said Tyler, of Carlsbad.

Finally, about 45 minutes before his date began on May 3, he said, he received a call from Scripps saying all images and appointments involving x-rays were canceled.

I’m not sure how they got to know I had a date scheduled because they didn’t make it yesterday, Tyler said. It’s just surprising to me how totally their system has been affected without being able to fall back on something.

The attack forced the health systems of the four major hospitals to switch to paper records for their existing patients, as emergencies, including trauma, heart attacks and strokes, were diverted to other hospitals.

Quentin Clark said his mother, Ruth, was admitted to Scripps Memorial La Jolla Hospital for surveillance on April 30 after experiencing dizziness and other heart symptoms.

A procedure was about to start when the outage occurred the next day, removing access to patient records. Ruth’s negative coronavirus test record was part of her digital patient record, meaning it was not available. She had to undergo a second test, the kind that requires a deep nasal swab.

Otherwise, however, Clark said the process went smoothly.

Although the digital hospital network remained offline, he said the medical team was still able to get diagnostic images of the head to make sure there was no bleeding.

The experiment, he said, highlighted that while technology is ubiquitous, it’s the people that really matter.

I haven’t really noticed much of a drop in care, said Clark, of Mount Helix. I was really happy with the way the staff were handling my mom’s situation.

But it was clear, he added, that things were still locked up in Scripps on May 3. It was not possible to schedule a follow-up appointment with her mother’s doctor.

Bryan Wilson and his wife, Alexa, arrived at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas with her in labor in early May 2 and noticed that while
no one was in panic mode, none of the computers in the facility’s emergency department appeared to be on except one that
displayed a clear error message.

No one mentioned the possibility of a ransomware attack, Wilson said, until he saw it on social media.

With the hospital network down, electronic vital signs monitoring was not functional and a nurse was assigned to record the information manually.

Overall, Wilson said, the experience went well, with the couple’s daughter Liliana born around 5 a.m.

Although the hospitals’ food ordering system was still down on the morning of May 3, generic rather than personalized meals were delivered a bit late.

Other than that, the delivery went very smoothly, Wilson said in an email.

The attack affected operations so badly that even coffee drinkers did not take a break.

On May 3, Scripps employees looking for a caffeine fix or a quick bite to eat had to pay cash at the cafe outside Scripps Memorial La Jolla because the electronic system that usually allows them to pay in pressing an ID badge was out of order.

A makeshift sign scrawled on a note card placed behind the tip jar read Pay Down, followed by a sad face.

Earlier in the morning, Scripps posted an announcement warning staff members not to log into their computers, according to an imaging technician who requested anonymity. Instead, staff kept paper records.

A handwritten sign at Scripps Memorial La Jolla Hospital on May 3 indicates coffee purchases in cash only due to a cyberattack.

A handwritten sign at Scripps Memorial La Jolla Hospital on May 3 indicates coffee purchases in cash only due to a cyberattack.

(Jonathan Wosen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The employee added that some of the patients she spoke to already knew about the cyberattack in local newspapers, while others were hearing about it for the first time. Among those who were aware of the situation, some received phone calls from Scripps letting them know they could still show up for their appointments.

Some appointments were able to hold and some had to be canceled, she said. But they are doing their best.

Scripps said in a statement it is reaching out to patients with scheduled appointments for the next few days. Those unsure of their status can call (800) 727-4777.

Jonathan Wosen, editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune, contributed to this report.

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