The Clinic works precariously, without a normalization date 12 days after the hack

"We are not in a normal situation, far from it," says the Clínic's medical director, Antoni Castells.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
16 March 2023 Thursday 22:51
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The Clinic works precariously, without a normalization date 12 days after the hack

"We are not in a normal situation, far from it," says the Clínic's medical director, Antoni Castells. Twelve days after a sophisticated cyberattack, the hospital continues to operate precariously. Although the technicians of the Agència de Ciberseguretat de Catalunya work hard, a date cannot be set for the restoration of normality. With care times greatly affected, the damage to users is very evident.

The restoration process is very laborious because the technicians from the information and systems management of the center and from the Cybersecurity Agency must ensure that no trace of the effects of the cyberattack remains on the restored servers, more than a third. Previous attacks on hospitals were revived after a few weeks because the systems had not been sufficiently cleansed of infection. "We have to be very sure that we don't make any false steps in everything that is recovered because going back would be a disaster," Castells explains.

The advances in the last week, from not being able to do anything with the information system other than viewing its content, are significant. Yesterday a special contingency plan was launched to proceed with changing the passwords of some 7,000 professionals from the three hospital sites (Villarroel, Plató and Maternitat) and the outpatient clinics that it co-manages (Borrell, Casanova and Les Corts), who attend to a window to obtain the new password physically after identification with the DNI.

With this step, email and various commonly used applications have been restored. From now on, professionals will use double authentication in access codes in order to reinforce security.

The hospital hopes that today the password change process will be completed, which yesterday caused a blockage in the agendas. In this sense, a patient who receives daily postoperative care at the CAP Borrell, had to insist yesterday morning because the schedule was not operational. “They couldn't take care of me because I wasn't assigned to any nurse. In the end they have done it because I have set them up a chicken ”, he explains. By mid-afternoon the application had been restored, with which the user was able to make an appointment for today.

Thousands of external consultations and hundreds of surgeries have been postponed, although since Wednesday doctors can access patient records. What worries the most at the moment are the analytics. At the hospital, between 1,000 and 1,500 samples are managed daily through a highly computerized process based on a bar code. It is not possible to match, manually, the production capacity of computing, so on Tuesday analytics began to be sent to external laboratories. "We cannot cope with the people who come to the extraction center daily," laments Castells. A patient came for a scheduled test: “They told me that they didn't do tests for those who already had a transplant, only for those who hadn't yet received a transplant. There were people there without an appointment who said 'the oncologist told me to come', and they took a sheet for the tests”.

According to Castells (a specialist in the digestive system), there are complaints from users, but understanding prevails: “Today I had a consultation and the understanding is total and absolute, apart from solidarity. Some person that I have visited did not have the test results and we have agreed that they will call them by phone ”.