Cyber Attack—Lessons From the Front Lines

About the Session

On Saturday, May 1, 2020, barely 30 days after the highest surge of COVID inpatients, a malware attack hit Scripps Health, a five hospital, 28 ambulatory clinic system. With two trauma centers, four emergency departments and three urgent cares, the Scripps system is the second largest in San Diego County. Within two hours, the hospitals were on an internal disaster plan with bypass in place for trauma, emergency departments, stroke, STEMI and obstetrics. Both backup servers were impacted, and 90 applications were affected. Computers, phones, all clinical communication systems, monitoring, all imaging modalities, Pyxis medication equipment, the electronic medical records and every interventional platform were adversely impacted. It took almost four weeks to bring the system back online with our EMR–EPIC being brought up last on May 27, 2021 at 04:00 a.m.

This presentation will review the initial attack, management of operations, mitigation and restoration, and lessons learned.

  • Initial attack focuses on systems failure and shutdown, stand up command center, communication, and messaging.
  • Management of operations includes incident command, patient safety, staffing impacts, and physician issues.
  • Develop clinical processes for medications, labs, imaging. Downtime procedures affected our ability to perform surgeries and procedural volumes. Tracking of census and patient movement, as well as county and state reporting and the impact to the community due to prolonged bypass.
  • Mitigation and restoration reviews the 24/7 heroic IT efforts, complex planning for cutover, resource and equipment needs, and incremental applications programs restoration.
  • Lessons learned puts in perspective the enormity of the impact of a cyberattack.

Learning Objectives:

  • Examine the impact and process development around downtime procedures with no computer or internet capabilities.
  • Identify how to plan strategically to minimize operational disruption.

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Presented By

Kimberlee Roberts, FACHE

Senior Director Clinical Services
Scripps Health

Tamara Winkler, RN, FACHE

Senior Director Clinical Services
Scripps Memorial Hospital