The case of the first alleged ransomware death

For nearly eight days, computers had been disabled on every floor. A real-time wireless tracker that could locate medical staff around the hospital was down. Years of patient health records were inaccessible. And at the nurses’ desk in the labor and delivery unit, medical staff were cut off from the equipment that monitors fetal heartbeats in the 12 delivery rooms.

Doctors and nurses in the unit texted each other with updates. “We have no computer charting for I don’t know how long,” one manager informed a nurse in a message later filed in court. “They are printing out the labs in the laboratory and sending them by paper,” another worker wrote. One overwhelmed nurse texted, “I want to run away.”

Ms. Kidd’s daughter, Nicko Silar, was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. The condition triggers warning signs on the heart monitor when the squeezed cord cuts off the supply of blood and oxygen to the fetus. Nicko was diagnosed with severe brain damage. She died nine months later.

Amid the hack, fewer eyes were on the heart monitors—normally tracked on a large screen at the nurses’ station, in addition to inside the delivery room. Attending obstetrician Katelyn Parnell texted the nurse manager that she would have delivered the baby by caesarean section had she seen the monitor readout. “I need u to help me understand why I was not notified.” In another text, Dr. Parnell wrote: “This was preventable.”

Ms. Kidd has sued Springhill, alleging information about the baby’s condition never made it to Dr. Parnell because the hack wiped away the extra layer of scrutiny the heart rate monitor would have received at the nurses’ station. If proven in court, the case will mark the first confirmed death from a ransomware attack.

The hospital denies any wrongdoing. In an emailed statement to The Wall Street Journal, Springhill CEO Jeffrey St. Clair said the hospital handled the attack appropriately: “We stayed open and our dedicated healthcare workers continued to care for our patients because the patients needed us and we, along with the independent treating physicians who exercised their…