George Washington University Hospital Hit by Cyberattack, Problems Linger for Over a Week

George Washington University Hospital Hit by Cyberattack, Problems Linger for Over a Week

As of Tuesday morning, there still seems to be ongoing issues that are yet unresolved. For example, a call to the GWU Hosptial radiology department scheduling line is answered with an automated message that "our office is closed due to a system outage." 

 

A cyberattack struck the majority owner of George Washington University Hospital, pressuring the hospital’s facilities to transition to offline documentation methods to prevent further contamination, Universal Health Services (UHS) reported.

UHS, one of the nation’s biggest health care providers that maintains authority over GWU Hospital, first experienced the cyberattack Sept. 27, forcing all networking systems to shutter. But as of Monday, the company can “confirm substantial progress toward restoration,” as the applications are in the midst of “being reconnected,” according to a statement.

 

“The recovery process has been completed for all servers at the corporate data center and connectivity has been re-established for all U.S.-based inpatient facilities,” UHS officials added.

UHS, home to more than 400 locations, sent electronic resources to its hospitals, in hopes to help reinstate all online operations. While hospitals continue to work towards restoring the network, some staff have switched to backup methods -- including those at GWU Hospital -- like documenting information offline. 

In a statement from last week, UHS noted that the cyberattack may temporarily make a mess of clinical and financial operations, without offering specifics on the number of hospitals that could be potentially impacted by the issue.

Even though the cyberattack disrupted UHS operations, officials noted that patients will still receive safe and effective care.

In the statement released Monday, UHS said that there was no indication that patient or employee data has been accessed or copied.

“All patient safety protocols remain in effect and patient care continues to be delivered safely and effectively at our facilities across the country. As we conduct our IT remediation work, we continue to have no indication that any patient or employee data has been accessed, copied or misused,” UHS officials concluded.

As of Tuesday morning, there still seems to be ongoing issues that are yet unresolved that likely will have an impact on patients and hospital employees for many weeks to come. For example, a call to the GWU Hosptial radiology department scheduling line is answered with an automated message that "our office is closed due to a system outage." 

The National Interest reached out several times to GWU hospital for comment, only to be directed to their statement. 

Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.

Image: An emergency sign illuminates outside of George Washington University Hospital, one of roughly 400 Universal Health Services, Inc (UHS) facilities across the United States and the U.K., in Washington, D.C., September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Raphael Satter