Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Computer Virus Forces Hospital To Divert Ambulances

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the outbreak-at-the-hospital dept.

Medicine 213

McGruber writes "The Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper is reporting that a hospital with campuses in Lawrenceville and Duluth, Georgia turned ambulances away after the discovery of 'a system-wide computer virus that slowed patient registration and other operations.' They're only currently accepting patients with 'dire emergencies.' A spokeswoman for the hospital said the diversion happened because 'it's a trauma center and needs to be able to respond rapidly.' The situation began on Thursday afternoon and is expected to last through the weekend."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330004)

I happen to live in Duluth. I guess I`ll postpone any plans of being sick and/or injured.

The Real Story... (5, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331948)

...is that they have created a system where in they can't function as a hospital without computers.

We're in a sad state when... (5, Insightful)

kryptKnight (698857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330018)

The hospital is still treating patients in emergency situations but is asking people with minor ailments, such as sore throats or sprained ankles, to contact their regular providers, Okun said.

We're in a sad state when people need to go to the hospital to deal with sore throats and sprained ankles.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330028)

And when hospital computers run Microsoft operating systems!

Re:We're in a sad state when... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330680)

The OS they're running isn't mentioned you dumb faggotlord fanboy.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (3, Funny)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330734)

It didn't have to be mentioned, because everyone knows Windows has all the viruses. ;)

Re:We're in a sad state when... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331832)

God I hate you fags more every day.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38332086)

you're a faggot you retarded computer illiterite moron. go learn something about operating systems, security, and life. you make me so sad i'm going to shit on your face if i see you in real life. actually i wont because i dont think you're worth my time of day.

Genius here, over and out.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1, Flamebait)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330866)

What other operating system has viruses?

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331374)

Any Linux distro and Mac OS.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331586)

Oh yeah, I heard about that one mac virus, and that other virus for Linux

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

thelonesun (2438194) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331386)

Android?

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38332108)

All versions of Windows, all versions of Linux, all versions of Mac OS X, all versions of Android.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (5, Informative)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331456)

I'm currently inside a hospital data center and I can tell you that windows is behind the scenes of a lot of the systems we use. Everyone in "the know" thinks it sucks that the majority of the problems we encounter is because of borked hardware configurations in appliance machines or Windows servers. We are on mainframe (as of today, it's still the only way to get everyone's critical data to almost a dozen moajor sites at once with 99.9 uptime and I don't see us abandoning it anytime soon) and there is a god-damned Windows server that is only used to encode EDI transactions to the JES2 spooler that always crashes, causing the spool to fill up, endangering the entire system. It's a very serious problem as the only solution to it once JES is full is to IPL the system.

The server in question doesn't even show an error message. Well, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. you can stop and start the services all you like, but you're just wasting time as the JES2 spool gets bigger. The only solution is to reboot the Windows Server. It is redundantly mirrored, but we any of you with any sense will know that this does not make the situation any less frightening. The mirror is bound to be subject to the exact same problem, since it's software-related, which would put you back at square 1 in the event of a fail-over.

Don't even get me started about malware. Of course, all the workstations throughout the system are Windows systems. Those should not matter in case of a power outage or system-wide failure because we have downtime procedures in place, but let's face it, we'd be majorly crippled if we were to ever loose our entire network and it would likely impair our ability to serve customers. Although it shouldn't. So far we've been lucky.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

utkonos (2104836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330058)

You must have insurance. What if you don't have insurance, and it is Saturday?

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330082)

... that's why he says it's a sad state, genius.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330186)

What if you don't have insurance, and it is Saturday?

Then you wait until the clinic is open to get your sore throat or sprained ankled examined.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (4, Informative)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330206)

Then I'd go to an urgent care clinic, which takes both my insurance and cash-only payments from people who don't have insurance. If you want to win your argument against the parent post you responded to, you're going to have to beat my argument I just submitted just now. Urgent care clincs outnumber hospitals. There may be rural exceptions, but I don't think this place is rural.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330502)

In my area, urgent care clinics require payment up front and are a bit more expensive. Not having insurance is a good sign that you can't afford a visit. Some people will go to the hospital when they need treatment but cannot afford it.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330894)

Emergency rooms around here are notorious for being full of quacks. And for making you wait 2 hours in the lobby. And for charging 500$ for a bandaid (no, really). Don't have a relative to sign your papers and pay while you bleed out? Expect even shittier service.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331080)

There's a reason for this stuff: long waits are necessary because there's dozens of people there bringing their kids in for runny noses and sore throats. Charging $500 for a bandaid is necessary because all those dozens of people there for common colds aren't going to pay, so they have to pass the costs for all the non-payers on to people who do pay.

Fix the healthcare system in this county and you wouldn't see this crap.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331066)

What if you're poor? You have two choices:
1) Urgent care, which takes cash-only payments (and usually requires them up-front), or
2) Emergency rooms, which are free; you just have to say "I don't have insurance and I don't have any money". Or even better, you can say "No habla Ingles". The hospital is required to treat you, and then pass the bill on to all the other patients by charging them $10 for a tylenol pill and $20 for a band-aid.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331106)

Up front? Hmm, well. Okay then. You convinced me.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331176)

Then I'd go to an urgent care clinic, which takes both my insurance and cash-only payments from people who don't have insurance. If you want to win your argument against the parent post you responded to, you're going to have to beat my argument I just submitted just now. Urgent care clincs outnumber hospitals. There may be rural exceptions, but I don't think this place is rural.

Many urgent care clinics are an extension of full health care facilities. If their CR processor or CPOE system can't communicate back to the "core" then those facilities are just as affected as the "core". Of course, this all depends on the infrastructure of the affiliate. If the facility was designed as a true hub/spoke environment then each should operate independent of the other but will effect services that rely on each other

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330214)

I have insurance and there is zero reason to pay a co-pay for treatment of a sore throat and/or sprained ankle. Those ailments are easy to diagnose and treat at home. Rushing for healthcare over every sneeze is a terrible waste of money.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330986)

if you'd ever had a sprained ankle you'd know it's not easily extinguishable from a break in the bone. so x-rays and thus a hospital visit.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331590)

If you'd ever had a broken ankle you'd know there was no confusing it for a sprain.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331978)

If you'd ever had a broken ankle you'd know there was no confusing it for a sprain.

I've had both (hairline fractures, not full-on busted ankle), and they're very similar.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330418)

"What if you don't have insurance, and it is Saturday?"

Then they give you a call, and you pay for it. What's your phone number?

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

dingram17 (839714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330540)

By being 'in a sad state', I think the GP meant 'in the United States'.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330554)

Go to a seven day a week walk in clinic?

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331432)

You don't want to be at Gwinnett Medical if you don't have insurance anyway...

Re:We're in a sad state when... (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330076)

Yes, but until the health care reform package runs most of the for profit insurance companies out of business that's going to remain to be the case.

Sprained ankles though I wouldn't lump as a minor ailment. You don't necessarily always know if it's a sprain or a minor factor or torn ligament. Delaying care can end up costing a lot more money and result in inferior recovery.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330218)

Yes, but until the health care reform package runs most of the for profit insurance companies out of business

Whatever profits are to be purportedly "lost" during the healthcare reform will be made up by others' mandatory enrollment. It's all feelgood bullshit to keep the same ridiculously bloated healthcare complex fat. There are no real compromises here, and as usual, the common man loses.

It's funny how all the big-business parrots are decrying it as "socialism," the for-profit healthcare complex is a big-businessman's wet dream.

Also, the computer virus was because Windows.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330538)

Actually, the problem with that theory is that the health care reform package limits overhead to 15% for group packages and 20% for individual packages. The question is how that's going to be defined and the DHHS is making them include sales charges as overhead. Ultimately, they might be still around as private insurers, but the profit is going to be absolute crap as they'll have to rebate any money they take in on premiums above that back to the subscribers.

Ultimately everybody enrolls in health insurance at some point. There are a small number of Christian Scientists and similar that do opt out, but essentially nobody truly opts out. The question is whether you make them a part of the system early enough to do the preventative care necessary to stave off major health problems or if you wait until they hit Medicare enrollment age and try to fix what you can.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2011/12/02/the-bomb-buried-in-obamacare-explodes-today-halleluja/ [forbes.com]

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330328)

Sprained ankles though I wouldn't lump as a minor ailment. You don't necessarily always know if it's a sprain or a minor factor or torn ligament. Delaying care can end up costing a lot more money and result in inferior recovery.

Not really. Unless your managed to fracture more than one bone, in which case the pain would likely drive you to seek care, if you elevated it, put some ice on it, took some OTC pain meds you could easily wait out a weekend.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330976)

We all know that ignoring a sore throat and waiting for it to heal can't have tragic consequences: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Henson#Illness_and_death

I broke my leg and walked on it for a while before I finally drove to the emergency room where they put a cast on it after x-rays. The reason I went for treatment was because it was having circulation issues because of the swelling. (They made me STAND at the counter of the emergency room and fill out forms )

Probably hairline cracked my arm when I was a kid and had no insurance and just toughed it out. Felt about the same and could not really use it for a few weeks.

Everyone should have access to basic medical care at reasonable costs

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331204)

Run them out of business? My dear boy, has the wool been pulled over your eyes that far? The "health reform" that was handed down was a fucking bailout to the health care industry. Now instead of having a choice to pay or die you'll be forced to pay unless Obama gets your name off the list for certain levels of re-election support...
 
You've been sleeping. Wake up and see what will happen when you're beholden to a private industry by the force of federal law. If you can't see the pitfalls that await you than you seriously need to drop the video gaming for a while and do some research.
 
And I should know, I work in the health care industry and the high ranking management are happier than a pig in a foot of shit. They're beside themselves with joy and there are dollar signs in their eyes. We're already expanding certain health care departments faster than we can fill seats because of the windfall this is going to cause.
 
But don't believe me, go out and google it yourself! There are tons of articles about this being a burden on the tax payer and a boon for the industry that Obama and company claimed they were going to battle for you. You've been fucked like a two bit whore.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (3, Insightful)

The Pirou (1551493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330088)

Catch a sore throat on the weekend as someone with an issue with their immune system when your regular care provider is unavailable, I think I'd go to the hospital too. Likewise if I was aged and fell, causing a swelling of the ankle. The injury could potentially be life threatening.

Just because we're young and durable doesn't mean that there aren't a good number of others who have genuine health concerns that seem trivial to us.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330492)

A sore throat can be something trivial, but it can also be something major. Going to a GP to have it checked out rather than waiting and seeing is the height of common sense. A hospital, not so much. Hospitals can do nothing a GP can't do, for those sorts of ailments. Hospitals only make sense if you actually need centralized, high-end medical treatment. You can't fit an MRI into a GP's office and a doctor certainly can't take one with them if they're doing house calls, nor will smaller facilities be able to detect everything in-house.

Oh, I thought you were referring to a society with sensible health-care!

The most intelligent health-care systems are ones where the method of delivery is one that suits the complaint. That doesn't necessarily mean the best - a poor but intelligent system will be more effective than a poor but stupid one, and will also be more reliable and more responsive than a rich but stupid one, but the rich but stupid system will still deliver better results in the end. What you want is rich and intelligent, but no country currently does that.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (2)

stevedog (1867864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330168)

A sore throat is actually a pretty good patient. At least they have a diagnosable condition, and that puts them at least in the Top 40%. You'd be surprised how many patients' chief complaint is "my back hurts. It's been like this for the past year. I'm just tired of it."

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330182)

Sounds like the problem might be more related to paramedic training in the ambulance system. In Australia if you call an ambulance they will treat and advise you on site for minor ailments and then be on their way (no trip to hospital). Of course the problem with that is the government thinks we don't need as many paramedics if less people are being transported to hospital so they slash funding. OK so its actually moronic politicians that cause the problems. Surprise surprise.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330506)

Yes, but in Australia you've salt water crocodiles to solve your problems with politicians.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330678)

Why the hell would a paramedic do that and invite funding a lawyer with their paycheck? Oh wait, In our united states, lawyers write the rules.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330888)

Well, no, it's not an ambulance issue, the ambulance diversion is separate from the "patient stay away request" though it is a bit hard to read between the lines.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

rbowen (112459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330310)

I know folks who go to the hospital for that and things even more trivial. Like - I am not making this up - heartburn. For me I have to be just about dying before I go to the ER and wait 4 hours to be told to go home and rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (3, Informative)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330784)

Going to hospital with heartburn is actually very common, especially for people with angina. Heart attacks and heartburn have almost identical symptoms, so it makes a lot of sense to go to hospital when you've got an existing condition.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (2)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330576)

Depending on the context, sprained ankles can make sense -- some sprains are difficult for the layperson to differentiate from a break.

Sore throats... Well, not unless someone is immune suppressed or they're in a situation where a walk-in clinic or their regular general practitioner is unavailable.

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330820)

We're in a sad state when people need to go to the hospital to deal with sore throats and sprained ankles.

You're not very good at reading between the lines of a Cover-Your-Ass Public Relations statement. Are you?

Having a "sore throat" in a US Hospital ER is a very specific code word which means vomiting blood, writhing on the floor in agony, and basically dying slowly in front of the ER nurses while they still refuse to treat you. Go ahead, listen to the 911 tapes and watch the actual video of the waiting room. [youtube.com]

I'm sure that they would have said a similar thing "don't come to the hospital if you just have a sore throat or a sprained ankle", not that they said anything of the sort. But that's basically what an ER hospital would say because it never would want to be perceived as overwhelmed. The fact is, they refused this lady service for three hours (basically until she died) because she didn't come via ambulance. And 911 wouldn't send an ambulance because the couple was already located at the ER.

And having a "sprained ankle", that's a good one! The people with "sprained ankles" who actually go to the ER generally don't know they have a sprained ankle. It's not like most people enjoy going to their ER in the first place. If they're at the ER, it's usually because they think something is broken, but the PR lady is not going to say something like that, that could land her into trouble. Just imagine if she said: "Don't come to the ER, even if you think you broke your ankle. Having lots of pain doesn't necessarily mean anything is broken anyway, so if you're lucky, and you probably are -- it's probably just a sprain. Just stay off it for a while and take some ibuprofen."

Re:We're in a sad state when... (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330948)

The first one more often than not is a symptom of something else and the second one can cause long term problems if not treated properly. Of course you should get professional advice for both. I'm of course not talking about a simple cough here but if you start spewing brownish stuff then it's time to visit a doctor.

It's all abount billing (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331468)

I wonder if this is giving anonymous any ideas for a social hack, close the hospitals country wide because they can't do billing or check on insurance. This shows hospitals would rather close than treat someone for free.

which o/s (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330034)

as if I have to ask...

the article mentioned nothing about which o/s or apps they run. or their network topology. things that matter, you know.

bet they thought about mentioning windows but their legal team said 'meh, why create trouble?'.

omissions like that are dishonest.

Re:which o/s (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330210)

it's blown me away when I asked an admissions person if she had an internet connect that worked with Internet Explorer and she said yes.

LoB

Re:which o/s (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330320)

With medical billing and ERP software being intranet based they use it. That is a good thing to cut down on cost and quickly save lives so the records are there for the staff.

Re:which o/s (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330542)

Perhaps, but IE is a major security hole. At the very least, hospitals should be absolutely required to use a secure browser. Secondly, with ERP, etc, being browser based, there's no difference from an operator standpoint between Windows and OpenBSD. You still click links, you still open tabs, you still get to set the wallpaper on the background. Ergo, there's no rational reason to use something that's expensive and insecure over something that's cheap and secure. If there are no platform-specific apps (they're all web-based) then go with the OS that is least likely to endanger service.

Re:which o/s (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330676)

>Perhaps, but IE is a major security hole.

Now you are just repeating stories the other kid told you at school.
Eight years ago.

Re:which o/s (0)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330950)

Troll much, or is this your first time?

Re:which o/s (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331118)

Wait.. you're accusing him of trolling just because he said IE is a major security hole, Which is pretty much a well known fact?
So you work for Microsoft corporate or something?

Re:which o/s (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331124)

dammit appologies... stupid slashdot thresholds...

Re:which o/s (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331216)

NP. The problem with snarky comebacks is that Slashdot doesn't have a way of unthresholding the thing a person is snarkily replying to. I'm mentally taking it that you're really replying to the AC I snarked at. :)

Re:which o/s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330682)

I should hope their security staff sets up a whitelist on the gateway for the computers, and doesn't allow anyone outside the intranet unless there's a business need for it.

Re:which o/s (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331578)

Perhaps, but IE is a major security hole.

IE8 and IE9 are fairly secure, especially if paired with Vista or Windows 7, which support protected mode. Now, if they're still using IE6 on XP, then they're screwed.

Re:which o/s (0)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330230)

the hospital is probably OWNED by Microsoft

Re:which o/s (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330384)

You mean pwned because of Microsoft.

My goodness! (0)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330038)

I wonder what OS they're running.......

linux (1)

Duncan J Murray (1678632) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330042)

at my hospital we use webapps for 99% of access to results/radiography etc... with office365, isn't linux becoming the obvious answer? (ok, no outlook replacement maybe... - but all anyone uses it for is email!)

Nuisance, Not Crisis (5, Informative)

stevedog (1867864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330080)

I work at a trauma center, and we go to diversion all the time. It happens whenever the ER gets backed up to the point that the patients would be better served by going to a less-full ER than by coming to ours, even if that ER is a little further away. This happens at least twice weekly, although perhaps not as often as other, less busy ERs. Yes, the virus undoubtedly brought them to this clogged state much faster, but this isn't nearly the crisis the summary (or the article it is summarizing) makes it out to be.

darn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330122)

i better stay healthy, i live in this area

Runners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330138)

From talking to some patients it appears thet the worstaions are operating, but they have functioning network connectivty. They are using runners to get documents from one location to another. I once worked in a hospital where a worm started affecting the WIndows servers, thankfully my unix machines were not targeted, and that support team had to shut down all their servers, restart them offline, install patches, then bring them back online. The worm came from a high level executives latop that one of his relatives had used to download something that appeared innocuous,away from work, but proved otherwise once it was connected to the company network. I don't know that is what happened in this case, but I would not be surprised if it were a similar scenario.

Re:Runners? (1)

spokenoise (2140056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330272)

Stuxnet for hospitals? The major trauma for the hospital admin was that they might not be able to determine your insurance or billable status... ED's can do most thing in the diagnostic and treatment pathway in house, be an awful shame not to bill you for it all

Re:Runners? (1)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330582)

From talking to some patients it appears thet the worstaions are operating, but they have functioning network connectivty.

That's awful. I hope the network goes down soon.

Wait a second (0)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330232)

So, I guess the lack of a computer make it completely impossible for a doctor to treat a patient.

How did Doctors do it before computers? I guess we just didn't have medical care back then...

Re:Wait a second (4, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330304)

What happened back then was it took a lot more staff to treat a lot more people. This issue isn't keeping doctors from treating patients, it's keeping them from treating as many patients. Everything is probably having to be done on paper, which means that someone (a nurse more than likely) has to walk that paper where ever it needs to be. This has the double impact of taking more time than it normally would, and requiring someone to take time out their normal duty to move it. That is why they are still taking actual emergency cases, and turning away non-life threatening, less serious cases. So that the ER does not get completely backed up that they can't treat a life-threatening case that may show up.

Re:Wait a second (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330370)

If the computer system shuts down and workflow speeds up then you know you have a problem.

Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (4, Insightful)

ChumpusRex2003 (726306) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330264)

Hospitals are often quite badly prepared for this sort of thing. A big problem is the number of computerised "medical devices" where the vendor insists on a very specific update policy (or very specific restrictions on 3rd party software).

I worked at one hospital where Confiker took the whole IT system down. A big problem in repairing the damage was that there were a lot of PACS (digital X-ray/CT/MRI viewing/storage) workstations where the PACS vendor would not permit the relevant windows updates or a 3rd party anti-virus to be installed on the servers/workstations. They relented after a 24 hour stand-off, after they realised that they was nothing they could do to keep the system happy enough to meet the SLA without the updates and a suitable anti-malware.

I work at another hospital now, where similar lack of updates due to comparability with old business apps prevents updates. E.g. The PCs still run XP SP1 (even the brand-new quad core xeons). There also doesn't appear to be funding for updating anti-malware - the hospital use Sophos 7 (which became unsupported last year).

This hospital has chronic problems with virus/malware infestation on a number of office machines - but while IT can clean the computers manually, there seems to be a reservoir if infection on file-servers, USB drives, etc. So the infections come straight back after a manual deletion. This hasn't caused a catastrophe locally, so management don't seem to care, but it is a major annoyance, as infected documents frequently end-up getting e-mailed out to other hospitals/doctors and destroyed without trace by the recipient's e-mail system. Docs have been known to put the files on a USB stick, take it home, clean it with an up-to-date virus scanner and then e-mail it out.

why can't 3rd partys be forced by hipaa (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330306)

to let IT install updates / anti-virus?

Re:why can't 3rd partys be forced by hipaa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331892)

They can.. People replying ITT basically have no idea what they are doing. If it's just a minor number of pc's getting a virus, that's understandable. But HIPAA does indeed allow/recommend that system be protected against virus.

Re:Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330376)

That is allowed?No one should email or bring flash drives to work. HIPPA issues are scary enough. I did a contract with a hospital last February and well aware of obsolete software. That hopsital had a policy at least of disabling USB ports, put a big red warning screen for anyone daring to go to the internet with IE 6, and encrypting the hard drives.

I did cringe and asked if they would at least use SP 3 for the Windows workstaitons and leave SP 2 for the custom devices. IT is not like someone will browse facebook while using the MRI. They said they had to do more testing and I just shook my head in disbelief.

Re:Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330510)

No. Of course it's not allowed to take confidential material out of the hospital. However, IT were unable to help in this matter, so "nature found a way".

However, the usual sort of situation where it would happen would be:
Where a doctor had prepared a lecture for the university as part of his job, using anonymized images from a patient's record as a teaching case (this use of anoymized data, even if a real case is permitted, as long as there is no way to undo the anonymization). He needs to take the powerpoint presentation to the university, in order to give his talk. The only way to do this is by USB drive or e-mail to the university A/V department (but they might have a shredding e-mail anti-vir system)

Re:Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331592)

That is allowed?No one should email or bring flash drives to work.

Part of the problem is that you can't tell doctors what to do. Thanks to the AMA cartel, there are always fewer doctors than we need, so the result is that they hold the whip hand in employment relationships. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it gets annoying when they have that kind of privilege and no one else does.

Re:Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (2)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330412)

"This hospital has chronic problems with virus/malware infestation on a number of office machines - but while IT can clean the computers manually, there seems to be a reservoir if infection on file-servers, USB drives, etc. So the infections come straight back after a manual deletion. This hasn't caused a catastrophe locally, so management don't seem to care, but it is a major annoyance, as infected documents frequently end-up getting e-mailed out to other hospitals/doctors and destroyed without trace by the recipient's e-mail system. Docs have been known to put the files on a USB stick, take it home, clean it with an up-to-date virus scanner and then e-mail it out."

It sounds like you're describing the MRSA phenomenon that many hospitals are experiencing. Perhaps the root of both problems lies in a common practice that, once addressed, could solve both issues?

Re:Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (2)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330528)

That was my first thought. No plan. As a technologist I'm peeved by the fact that people assume a system will always function properly because it always has in the past. Therefore it is terribly difficult to get a business to plan for outages.

Re:Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331418)

I had the same issues (I do outsourced IT for small/medium sized businesses) at several clinics. We still have a problem with AllScripts. It's web based, and half the modules don't work outside of IE6.

Re:Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331716)

In my hospital, this kind of infection just doesn't happen. Between desktop patching, server patching, taking a hard line with software vendors and forcing them to allow our patches and software (or no contract) some of the last "major" waves of viruses just pass right over us. Some of our sister hospitals, on the other hand... Exactly like the one in the story. We've even gone so far as to strip out most attachment's from company emails, and disallow use of USB storage media without an encrypted drive.

Re:Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (2)

jombee (111566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331794)

Yes, for very good reason network medical device vendors are specific as to what client software modifications can be made. This includes client-side security measures such as service packs, security patches, and antivirus. This is primarily due to FDA regulations which require full software qualification, validation, testing, and documentation. The full scope and diligent execution of an FDA-compliant quality safety process takes time and costs money. This is not like IT operations patching a web server; a patient on the table in a procedure requires all device imaging and monitoring systems to work flawlessly, exactly as designed. Any issues that arise will require an FDA adverse event report from the manufacturer and if the device has been modified from its FDA approved baseline then responsibility may fall on the hospital; then watch as the lawyers pull out all the stops, especially if patient treatment was affected.

I work directly in this field. Once hospital IT get their head around these facts, it's time to think outside of using traditional client-side security mitigation techniques. It's routine for me to find hospital IT networks with no mitigating network security controls controls, no VLAN segmentation, no ACL entries, no routing chokepoints, firewall rulesets with ANY/ANY permitted, and the inevitable infected medical devices. It's a shame for patient safety.

Re:Bad IT isn't uncommon in hospitals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331970)

Why doesn't the IT department segment the computer systems, servers, et cetera needed for the healthcare services from everything else behind firewalls that doesn't allow them access to external resources, or only allows individual port access to external sources via ACL's or webfilters?

Combine that with GPO's that block external USB connections, disables unneeded services, and turns on firewall rules on the local computers and you should be pretty safe. You might even consider 802.1X or MAC filtering on the switch/wireless networks. I'm sure there are other things that can be done and this type of stuff should be 101 in a critical environment.

Getting viruses/malware on these systems is unacceptable and either the IT department or the upper management needs to be fired for this type of nonsense. I know there are regulations that mandate this be configured for energy and oil companies. I would have figured the same for the healthcare industry too.

Hospitals have terrible obsolete platforms (5, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330276)

I did a contract with one last March which was upgrading to new state of the art medical billing system to be Obamacare compliant.

Ran Windows 7? No. Windows XP Service pack 3 right? No. Windows XP SP 2 with IE 6?!

Normally it is not an issue but with HIPPA it is very serious this irritated me. Someone can literally hold the hospital hostage if these medical records for tens of millions of dollars and they need at least a patched and still supported version of XP like corporate America does. The problem is custom medical software and custom devices for Xrays and MRIs use IE 6 still and are not certifed with XP SP 3 ... unless you give them $$$$ to buy all new epuipment over again. This is new software being developed in 2010 I may add requiring IE 6 and some software wont even run with SP 3 on XP. This means no security patches.

It does not surprise me there are viruses on hospital computers as they can't be patched. WIth HIPPA you would think a hospital would always demand and use state of the art fully patched systems for security. But if were the medical records software company or make MRI machines I would be still requiring IE 6 too so I can then price gouch and double dip and charge3 another $400,000 in 2013 when support ends. I can make even MORE money. ... end rant

The greed is incredible in the industry, but doctors can be the most and worst clients and users if you chat with anyone who supports them. THey feel supperior because they have those PHDs and make tons of money. Luckily I just helped install stuff and ignored the rest of the staff. As a result I.T. staff just never upgrade as they do not want to deal with these users at all

Re:Hospitals have terrible obsolete platforms (1)

jclarke (16004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330378)

You'd think someone who claims to have worked on a medical billing system would know how to spell HIPAA.

Re:Hospitals have terrible obsolete platforms (2)

anomrabbit (1545955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330650)

And you'd think that someone who claims to have worked on something relating to medicine would know that doctors have MDs.

not just Hospitals are stuck with XP / IE6 (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330760)

lot's of other places still have XP and they are big places like BP.

Re:not just Hospitals are stuck with XP / IE6 (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331616)

They use SP 3 which still gets security updates. Even that is not as secure as Windows 7. I doubt BP runs SP 2 with no updates

so why can't hippa let IT brake the certifed / DRM (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330786)

so the software can run in a VM / under a newer OS.

not an infrequent occurrence (2)

Caesar Tjalbo (1010523) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330488)

Viruses are not an infrequent occurrence at the hospital, she said, but it’s never seen anything like this one.

What gave it away? The patients had mice attached to them?

The Onion? (2)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330534)

Am I the only one who parsed this headline and thought it was something from The Onion?

Net we'll see "CERT Advisory Issued for Swine Flu Virus"...

SO HOW COME NO ONE GETS CANCER OF THIN PINKY ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330578)

Always things like lung, brain, prostate, liver, colon, rectum and other important parts. Why not cancer of the pinky ??

Re:SO HOW COME NO ONE GETS CANCER OF THIN PINKY ?? (1)

Smurf (7981) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331392)

Always things like lung, brain, prostate, liver, colon, rectum and other important parts. Why not cancer of the pinky ??

Because your pinky is essentially just bone, muscle, and skin, with a little fat. So when people get cancers originating in their pinkies, they get lumped up with the rest of cancers of the bones, muscles, skin, and (more rarely) adipose tissue.

This is (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330844)

Yet another example of how technology makes us stupid. How ever did we manage BEFORE computers and computer records... I guess patients just died in the hallways. The other day I went to a tire shop and asked the guy for some tires. He said he didn't have any. I asked him if he could check to see if another store in the chain across town had some. He said the computer network was down, and he couldn't do it from there. I guess telephones no longer work for calling the other store up and asking them like they did 20 years ago.

Re:This is (4, Insightful)

zootie (190797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331162)

While I might agree that some people do become stupid with tech (and oversimplify the complexity that computers are covering up and compensating), we also can't oversimplify the fact that it's not trivial to go back 20+ years to pre-computer procedures overnight for a temporary problem that will go away in a few days (or minutes or hours, as in the case of the tire shop employee).

Besides employees not getting paid enough to go the extra mile (or that they're supposed to be doing something else), the likely end reason is likely that it isn't affordable or efficient or even possible. As it is, a common complain in the healthcare industry is that they're understaffed, and with automation, the number of employees has been reduced so much they would never be able to deal with the backlog manually (assuming that enough employees had the training to deal with pre-computer issues). Not to mention that in a complex team workflow, exceptions would make it risky (ie, if the patient isn't registered in the system, his/hers tests can't be attached, so the doctors can't access them properly, opening the hospital to liabilities).

Old systems likely broke down and got replaced by digital systems that require much less from their operators. Before they might have been able to print, but maybe that printer isn't there anymore. Going all the way back to pre-computers might mean leaches.

As for your tire experience. Maybe the employee was lazy and wasn't willing to go the extra mile. Or maybe he didn't have a yellow pages or a company directory (which might have been on-line). Or, likely, he is supposed to tend the counter, and isn't allowed to do something else when he is supposed to be servicing people coming in the door (or answering the phone). In the "olden days", we might have been dealing with the store owner, which would be more inclined to GEM, but with franchises and staffs cut to a minimum for the sake of 80%+ normalcy, it's no surprise that the quality of service suffers.

In spirit, I agree that computers have made it too easy for stupidity to thrive. In fact, they have made it so easy that it is endemic at the business level, not just at the employee level. Rather than doing the work, businesses just farm it out to someone else, and then to someone else (ie, the "Cloud philosophy"), and you end up dealing with shells that are so far removed from the data that have no knowledge or interest in providing a reasonable service that falls slightly outside the normal expectation. And even when it's a typical offering, quality is often substandard and it only fulfills the need in the most general sense. But I'm starting to digress to another topic, so I'll stop.

Re:This is (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331334)

As someone who works in a hospital i can tell you that reverting to a paper and pencil system requires at least 10x the number of workers for the same number of patients. And they would make many life threatening record keeping mistakes mistakes that are time consuming to identify since they would have to use this system infrequently if ever.

As an example transcribing dozens of lab values on possibly hundreds of patients and a worker transposes a potassium of 7.3 to 3.7. That patient could die from that simple mistake.

Re:This is (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331856)

The example I was always given was to imagine being open on an operating table and the operating doctor needs to access your records to confirm something before proceeding and your records cannot be reached, so he sends a runner to obtain them, adding an extra 5 - 10 minutes to the procedure. time during which you're cut open and vulnerable to infection and blood loss. Not a fun scenario, but a very realistic one.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?