Ransomware attacks might increase in-hospital mortality by up to 35%

A recent working paper found that during ransomware attacks, in-hospital patient mortality increased by 20% to 35%, NPR reported Oct. 20. 

The research analyzed Medicare data and is currently limited to patients 65 and older who are in the hospitals during a ransomware attack.

Cyberattacks can disrupt care for weeks and cost hospitals millions. Attacks have more than doubled between 2016 and 2021, exposing tens of millions of patients' health information and forcing facilities to divert and delay care. Within the first week of an attack, hospital volume falls by 17% to 25%, the research found.

The findings confirm hospitals' worst fears, NPR said, but they might push the industry and government to make substantial changes. Some advocates are asking policymakers to set minimum cybersecurity requirements for hospitals and offer financial assistance to smaller or more rural facilities that may not have the resources to comply.

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