FBI Now Investigating Cyber Attack On MedStar Health

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For a second day, the region’s second-largest health care system deals with a crippling computer virus. MedStar Health says it is making progress, but WJZ is learning some patients are still feeling the effects.

Ava-joye Burnett with the investigation into a paralyzing cyber attack.

A computer virus set these hospitals back into an era of the past. Instead of computers, employees are using old school pen and paper.

“Despite the challenges affecting MedStar Health’s IT systems, the quality and safety of our patients remains our highest priority, which has not waned throughout this experience. Fortunately, the core ways in which we deliver patient care cannot be altered, manipulated or harmed by malicious attempts to disrupt the services we provide,” Stephen R.T. Evans, MD, executive vice president, Medical Affairs and chief medical officer, MedStar Health. “Our ability to serve our patients and their families depends first and foremost on our caregivers, and their expert knowledge and compassion focused on each patient.”

“The attempt to negatively impact an institution designed to save lives and care for those in need is a sad and troublesome reality of our times, not only for MedStar Health, but for our entire industry and the communities we serve,” says Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE, president and chief executive officer, MedStar Health. “Fortunately, thanks to the expertise and dedication of our clinical and IT teams, we are addressing the current issue in an expeditious and thoughtful manner, never losing sight of our responsibility to our patients.”

On Monday morning, MedStar hospitals in Maryland and D.C. realized something was wrong. A virus shut down computer systems. Now–two full work days later–there are still issues.

Robin Ramsey says her husband’s back surgery at Good Samaritan was delayed for hours.

“He was really agitated, of course, because you know when you are going in for surgery, you can’t eat the night before,” said Ramsey.

On Tuesday, MedStar Health said they’re making progress–a fight against malware. As for employees…

“Everything is shut down here, so there’s paper. Everything is by hand today,” said Courtney Martin, Georgetown Hospital employee.

MedStar has hospitals in D.C. and Maryland. A company spokesperson says no personal information for patients has been compromised or stolen.

“I think this should be a wake up call for the industry. I also think, unfortunately, this is really just the tip of the iceberg,” said Paul Dant, Independent Security Evaluators. “We’re going to continue to see these types of attacks.”

The hospital system would not say if this was a case of “ransomware,” where hackers hold computer systems hostage until companies pay up.

That was the case for a California hospital just weeks ago. It had to pay $17,000 in order to regain control of its computer systems.

Lori Willis’ grandmother’s surgery had to be rescheduled. She hopes the worst is over.

“Hopefully she will get her surgery and they’ll figure out what’s going on with the systems and get everything running and back to normal,” said Willis.

MedStar says the virus did not affect patient care.

MedStar employs about 30,000 people in the region.

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