Cyberattacks associated with increased strokes, wait times at nearby hospitals

Hospital ransomware attacks can also constrain resources at nearby facilities and should be considered a "regional disaster," a May 8 study in JAMA Network Open found. 

The UC San Diego Health researchers analyzed an academic emergency room that fell victim to a month-long ransomware event in May 2021, as well as one located close by, comparing the four-week time periods before, during and after the attack. Both ERs are in San Diego County.

They discovered that the nearby ER had significant increases during the cyberattack in daily census, emergency medical services arrivals, patients leaving without being seen or against medical advice, median wait times, ER lengths of stay, stroke code activations, and confirmed strokes.

"Recognizing that cybersecurity attacks can impact adjacent hospitals is a step towards realizing the need for regional cooperation just like a natural disaster or other major emergency," said Christopher Longhurst, MD, the study's senior author and chief medical officer and chief digital officer at UC San Diego Health, in a May 8 news release.

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