How the Allscripts ransomware attack hurt one Ohio physician's practice

Julie Spitzer - Print  | 

The Allscripts ransomware attack has forced some physicians to temporarily close up shop, according to News 5 Cleveland.

Allscripts's North Carolina data centers were struck by SamSam ransomware Jan. 18, knocking out its Professional EMR and electronic prescribing services, among other features. Only customers who host their data on the Allscripts cloud felt the attack's wrath, because the vulnerability that was exploited wasn't within an Allscripts application. While the vendor claims no patient data has been compromised, a number of physicians have expressed frustration with the EMR lockdown — and others have had to turn patients away.

Pulmonary Physicians in Canton, Ohio, told News 5 they had no choice but to cancel appointments. Without access to patient records, physicians at the clinic — which sees nearly 8,500 patients — couldn't provide proper care.

"It has prevented us from being able to see patients in the office," George Kefalas, MD, told News 5.

Scheduling, test results and medications have been offline at Pulmonary Physicians since the attack began. "This outage is by far the biggest one and it's the first one associated with what appears to be a ransomware attack," Dr. Kefalas told News 5, noting that previous outages typically last one to one and a half hours at a time.

Becker's Hospital Review reached out to Allscripts for more information multiple times this week, but hasn't yet received an update.

This is the message you hear when you call Allscripts, according to News 5: "Please note we are currently experiencing an outage in our cloud-hosted environment. We are working to restore service as soon as possible."

Dr. Kefalas thinks Allscripts should have backup systems in place in case this happens again. "The frustration obviously is very high when an office is full of patients and you can't really take care of them as you are used to doing," he said.

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