Seton Healthcare investigating potential breach after virus attack

The Texas health system officials say patient safety wasn’t affected, but patients contacted Austin’s KXAN with their concerns.
By Jessica Davis
02:19 PM
Seton Healthcare breach

Austin-based Seton Healthcare is investigating a potential breach after officials detected ‘suspicious activity’ on its computer network on Sunday night.

The cause was a virus that targeted the hospital systems’ network.

“The attempt was unsuccessful, so no data was encrypted or lost,” Seton officials told Healthcare IT News.

[Also: The biggest healthcare breaches of 2017 (so far)]

Seton’s team shut down 3,600 devices to protect patient and hospital data, while staff transitioned to paper forms. Officials said backup staff was called in to ensure patient care was unaffected. Seton had drilled its staff to handle these types of scenarios.

Normal computer operations have been restored to all but two sites of care: Seton Medical Center Williamson and Seton Medical Center Hays. Officials said these sites are expected to be back online by the end of the day.

Seton Smithville Regional Clinic and Seton Shoal Creek experienced no downtime.

“Healthcare operations have been normal throughout this incident with one exception: Out of an abundance of caution for patient safety, for a seven-hour period Sunday night, we instructed emergency medical services to take stroke and some heart patients to other area hospitals.”

The diversion ended early Monday morning before dawn.

However, several people contacted Austin’s KXAN about concerns that Seton’s computer systems were compromised. Internal emails among staff alerted to connectivity issues and were advised not to use internal applications because the network was “not stable.”

“We recently identified suspicious activity within our network and are currently monitoring the situation,” officials from Ascension -- which owns Seton -- said in a statement. “We have not identified any patient safety issues and no devices have been reported as encrypted by ransomware. We have proactively set up safety precautions to ensure all our assets are protected.”

Officials from Ascension -- which owns Seton -- declined to offer additional details outside of the official statement.

We will update as more information becomes available.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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