UHS Computer Systems, Employees Left In The Lurch After Cyberattack

The health giant’s network remained shut down as of Tuesday. Health workers say the outage has made communicating difficult and that they are using paper records and hand-labeling medications. The Wall Street Journal said some ambulances have been re-routed and elective surgeries canceled.

Becker’s Hospital Review:
Employees Describe Chaotic Scene At UHS Hospitals Amid IT Incident

The attack began on Sept. 27, and one nurse told CNBC the computers slowly stopped working. The health system issued a statement on Sept. 28 acknowledging an “IT security issue” and noted its facilities turned to downtime protocols. Employees are now stepping forward to describe the scene inside facilities. A Washington-based clinician working in a UHS facility said medical staff couldn’t easily see lab results, imaging scans and medication lists to make treatment decisions, according to a CBS News report. The facility also reverted to hand-delivering lab orders and phone issues made it challenging for care team communication. “These things are life or death,” the clinician said. (Dyrda, 9/29)

In other stories about IT issues —

Modern Healthcare:
HHS To Track EHR Use Among Office-Based Physicians

HHS is launching an effort to measure health information technology adoption and use among office-based physicians, the department said Tuesday. The initiative will gather national-level data on office-based physicians’ use of health IT systems, including their experiences with interoperability and administrative burden. HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology plans to use the program’s findings to inform future policy decisions. (Cohen, 9/29)

Becker’s Hospital Review:
Piedmont Cancer Institute Email Phishing Incident Exposes 5,226 Patients’ Info

Atlanta-based Piedmont Cancer Institute began notifying more than 5,000 patients in September that their personal health information may have been exposed as the result of a recent email phishing incident. The medical center reported the breach to HHS as affecting 5,226 individuals and posted a data security incident notice to its website stating that an unauthorized individual gained access to a Piedmont Cancer Institute employee’s email account between April 5 and May 8. (Drees, 9/29)

In news about quality of care —

Modern Healthcare:
FDA Warns Of Safety Problems At Virginia Mammography Clinic

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday alerted patients who had breast cancer screenings at a privately owned mammography clinic in Richmond, Va., that there may be problems with test quality. Patients of Allison Breast Center and their family members complained to the agency that Dr. Michael Bigg, a radiologist and the clinic’s owner, incorrectly interpreted mammography screenings for years and caused delays in breast cancer diagnoses. The Virginia Board of Medicine suspended Bigg’s medical license in May and the clinic is now closed, according to the website. (Castellucci, 9/29)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Some Georgia Hospitals Keep Pandemic Information To Themselves

In March, as Georgia roiled with skepticism about the true danger of COVID-19, a stark example of the disease’s stealthy power appeared. A 42-year-old mammogram technician at Piedmont Newnan Hospital was found dead in her home, with her young child nearby. The county coroner reported that the otherwise healthy woman had tested positive. For some, it made the pandemic’s reality sink in. “I had mammograms done at that hospital,” one Twitter user wrote. Others called for more masks and resources. (Hart, 9/29)

Kaiser Health News:
Post-COVID Clinics Get Jump-Start From Patients With Lingering Illness

Clarence Troutman survived a two-month hospital stay with COVID-19, then went home in early June. But he’s far from over the disease, still suffering from limited endurance, shortness of breath and hands that can be stiff and swollen. “Before COVID, I was a 59-year-old, relatively healthy man,” said the broadband technician from Denver. “If I had to say where I’m at now, I’d say about 50% of where I was, but when I first went home, I was at 20%.” (Appleby, 9/30)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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