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Ask Dr. Nandi: How cyberattacks can impact patient care

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Posted at 4:39 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 17:31:24-04

(WXYZ) — In our modern world, the unfortunate reality is that a cyberattack can seriously disrupt patient care in several ways.

It would be detrimental if we as physicians didn’t have access to patients' previous records. In the emergency room, doctors need quick access to patient information to treat people quickly.

Delays could slow down diagnosis and treatment and possibly place critically ill patients at risk.

For planned surgeries, many health care facilities rely on complex scheduling systems. These are often connected to a network, along with specific medical equipment.

A breach in security could lead to canceled or delayed surgeries. Worse still, if patient records are compromised, surgical teams may not have essential patient information like medical history and health conditions. This could increase the risk of complications during procedures.

A cyberattack could also disrupt monitoring systems that track patients' vital signs. So, timely interventions could be affected, leading to potentially precarious gaps in monitoring and care.

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Furthermore, many physicians use electronic prescriptions, which may also be impacted. Delays in medication administration or errors in dosage due to manual processes could happen. Or patients might face difficulties in getting necessary medications.

So what are doctors and nurses doing to provide the best care possible and how difficult is it to do our jobs without computer access?

The challenges can vary depending on the extent of the cyberattack and how much the health care facility relies on digital systems. Doctors and nurses must rely on out training and experience, as well as manual processes.

We may need to keep paper-based records to document patient information, medical histories and treatment plans, which can be very time-consuming. However, some health care facilities may have an alternate backup system in place. This could help staff access essential information and keep things running smoothly.


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