Ransomware attack disrupts services at Osaka hospital

OSAKA — A major hospital here suspended routine medical services after a cyber ransomware attack shut down the facility’s electronic medical records system, officials said Oct. 31.

Osaka General Medical Center in the city’s Sumiyoshi district is still performing emergency surgeries, but it has stopped providing outpatient services and postponed further surgeries, hospital officials said. during a press conference.

Staff members noticed a network server failure at 6:40 a.m. on October 31, along with messages sent in English stating that “all files have been encrypted.”

The hackers demanded a ransom paid in bitcoin cryptocurrency.

The hospital reported the attack to the prefectural police. Hospital officials said they would not negotiate with the hackers.

Disabling the electronic medical record system made it nearly impossible to calculate medical treatment costs or verify patients’ medical history details, officials said.

“The quality (of surgeries) could be lowered,” said Kazuhiro Iwase, director of the hospital.

Hospital staff began using paper medical records on November 1.

Up to 1,000 patients were affected on Oct. 31, but the attack did not cause any health concerns for the patients, the hospital said.

The hospital said it had no problems with computer server management systems.

The general hospital, operated by the Osaka Prefectural Hospital Organization, has 865 beds and 36 departments as the region’s medical center.

It is also designated as an advanced emergency medical services center and cancer hospital in the region.

Hospitals have recently been the target of ransomware attacks.

In October 2021, the electronic medical records system of Handa Hospital in Tsurugi, Tokushima Prefecture was attacked. The hospital could not provide normal medical services for about two months.

In January 2022, Nippon Dental University Hospital in Tokyo’s Chiyoda district had to stop accepting patients and partially suspend medical treatment for four days after its internal server was infected with a computer virus.

(This article was written by Amane Sugawara, Tomomi Terasawa, and Akihiro Tanaka.)

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