Cyberattack on vendor serving cancer centers prompts canceled appointments

A cyberattack on Elekta, a vendor serving cancer centers, interrupted service to about 170 of its customers in the U.S. April 6, including Providence, R.I.-based Lifespan and New Bedford, Mass.-based Southcoast Health. 

The outage prompted the health systems to reschedule radiation treatment appointments for some of their cancer patients, local CBS affiliate WPRI reports. 

"Early reports from Elekta indicate that their cloud environment that hosts Lifespan's application instance was not affected," a spokesperson for Lifespan said in a statement sent to Becker's, adding that appointments were rescheduled as a precaution. Canceled appointments were rescheduled for April 10 and April 11.

At Southcoast Health, the software outage interrupted services for about 50 patients across two of its Rhode Island radiation oncology centers. All other cancer center clinics and treatments were unaffected, and the health system was back online to resume radiation treatment services as of April 8, a spokesperson said in an email to Becker's. 

The exact number of additional cancer centers that may have had to reschedule patient appointments as a result of the disruption is unknown. 

Elekta became aware of the ransomware attack early April 6, a spokesperson told Becker's in an emailed statement, adding that all of its services were restored as of April 9. Of the 170 customers affected, less than 50 experienced a disruption that affected their ability to treat patients, Elekta said. 

An investigation into the attack did not find any evidence that patient information was compromised, Elekta said in its statement.

"Elekta recognizes the inconvenience this suspension causes to its customers and to the patients these customers serve. Elekta is committed to advancing patient care and outcomes and understands that any delay in scheduled radiation therapy adds to the patients' treatment burden."  

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