Several industry stakeholders testified before Congress last week regarding the growing threat of ransomware in the healthcare sector. One such individual, Christian Dameff, MD, an emergency medicine physician and the medical director of cybersecurity for UC San Diego Health, was very vocal about cyber concerns.

“We know ransomware attacks affecting the healthcare sector are increasing in frequency, sophistication, and disruptive potential. In addition to the exposure of sensitive data, severe financial losses, and reputational damage, a cyber-attack on a hospital has the potential to threaten life and limb,” Dameff stated.  

Cyberattacks impact the infected hospitals and the surrounding “healthcare ecosystem at large,” the emergency physician stated.  

“Two months ago, a ransomware attack disabled five large hospitals in the San Diego area for an entire month,” he stated. “Adjacent hospitals were quickly overwhelmed with unprecedented numbers of emergency room patients, many of whom had serious, time-dependent illnesses. Wait times skyrocketed. Hospital beds rapidly filled. Clinicians caring for very sick patients lacked vital medical records from the infected hospitals. I saw firsthand the “spill-over” effects and understood that the vulnerability of one hospital is the vulnerability of many hospitals.” 

Read the full article on Health IT Security.