Health and Wellness Informatics News

Ransomware attack in hospital leads to infant’s death

The 2019 incident, which has disabled Springhill Medical Center's EHR and patient monitors for days, has obscured its access to critical information, which could have allowed for a C-section.

As per a new report of The Wall Street Journal, a ransomware attack, as per a lawsuit, may have caused the first fatality. This cyberattack is probably linked to ransomware attacks in the US.

The ransomware attack that targeted Mobile, an Alabama-based Springhill Medical Center, in 2019 has caused a lot of damage. It knocked the IT system of the hospital to make them go offline for three weeks or more. It made their return to paper charting. At the same time, it has disrupted the staff communication while compromising the visibility of the fetal heartbeat monitors in the delivery and labor ward.

In the lawsuit, Teiranni Kidd alleges that she didn’t get any information that the hospital was amid a cyberattack. When she delivered her daughter, she was unresponsive to the umbilical cord wrapped around her delicate neck. Doctors further resuscitated her at that time, but she died nine months later due to brain damage.

The suit alleges that the disabled IT system meant some critical data about the heart rate of the baby. It was crucial information that could have enabled a fast delivery. However, it was not available for the attending obstetrician.

The cyberattack has compromised numerous electronic systems. It destitute the fetal tracking information at that time. As a result, a large number of healthcare providers became unable to monitor her labor and delivery.

Upon proof, the court will mark this case as the first confirmed death due to a ransomware attack. But this is not the first fatality linked to ransomware attacks. A year ago, a death happened in Germany when a woman got delayed care due to the compromise of an encrypted server. Hospitals have huge investments to combat such threats for patient safety.

A robust enforcement response needs to combat such situations. The Department of Justice promised to elevate its ransomware probes with a terrorism-level priority.