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How a CommonSpirit ER nurse handled the ransomware attack | #ransomware | #cybercrime


A nurse with Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health said the 2022 ransomware attack on the health system felt like a “virus” that had the potential to be every bit as deadly.

Kelsie Irby, BSN, RN, an emergency room nurse at CommonSpirit’s St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale, Wash., told GZERO that when the cyberattack hit in October 2022 she suddenly couldn’t track patients or communicate with other parts of the hospital.

“I can’t see their vitals, I can’t see their triage number. Normally, I can look at their labs, their history, etc.,” she said in the Oct. 17 report. “My big fear was one of those chest pain patients was actually going to be a heart attack in process. One of those respiratory patients was going to tank and need to be intubated in the lobby. One of those headache patients was going to be a stroke patient that was bleeding in their brain.”

Ms. Irby made national headlines that month when she called 911 for help because of staffing issues in the ER that were exacerbated by the cyberattack. The ransomware event affected facilities across the Catholic health system’s 143-hospital footprint, diverting ambulances and delaying procedures, and ended up costing an estimated $160 million.

While the IT systems at St. Michael were restored about two weeks later, Ms. Irby told the news outlet the fear from those days still resonates.

“We always say, ‘Rate things on a scale of 1 to 10. Tell me your pain on a scale of one to 10,'” she said in the interview. “If I had to rate this on a scale of 1 to 10, I would probably rate it at nine. And the only reason that I wouldn’t rate it a 10 is because we didn’t actually kill anybody. But the potential was there.

“We just went through a pandemic where the whole world was affected by this virus. Same thing: The whole world can be affected by a cyberattack virus as well.”



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