Scripps ransomware shutdown hits the two-week mark

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As Scripps Health reaches the two-week mark in its ongoing ransomware outage, the “will be back soon” message posted on its website is beginning to look more than a little optimistic.

Though a company spokesman said the health system had nothing new to report on the situation Friday, employees who said they wished to remain anonymous to avoid losing their jobs, confirmed that critical electronic medical records systems remained offline, continuing to force paper documentation and slowing down the pace of care, especially in emergency departments.

Two independent individuals privy to the current situation inside Scripps said that a decision was made Friday to once again divert stroke, trauma and heart attack cases from Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla due to concerns over a recent influx of emergency patients at the facility, one of the largest in San Diego.

“I cannot stress this enough, every minute we are there we feel like we are playing with our license,” one nurse said, adding that many have been advising their own family members to stay away. “We are all buying malpractice insurance at this time.”

Regulators, so far, have not expressed similar concerns. In an email sent Friday afternoon, the California Department of Public Health said it “continues to monitor” Scripps facilities, adding that they “are operational and caring for patients using appropriate contingency protocols.”

Patients continue to give mixed reviews of how their care is being influenced by such a long-running cyber attack.

Steve Bernitz of Encinitas said he has been a Scripps spine surgery patient for six years and currently has two ruptured discs in his back that will likely require surgery.

Simply getting Scripps to acknowledge that he was its patient, despite the fact that he has been in “great pain” for the past 10 days, he said, has been nearly impossible.

“They won’t take appointments, they won’t answer any questions about what is happening or when they might re-open, aren’t referring people to outside doctors, and will not even allow their doctors to speak with their patients via telephone as they say they cannot do that without a functioning medical records system,”…

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