Local hospitals, clinics affected by global ransomware attack

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The international cyberattack that's hit 65 countries is having an effect on medical facilities here in Northeast Wisconsin.

A company used by local hospitals and clinics for transcribing patients' medical information from doctors had systems knocked out by the Petya ransomware attack.

Aurora BayCare, Bellin Health, ThedaCare and Prevea Health confirm they're affected by Nuance Communications' system outage, along with HSHS hospitals: St. Vincent Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center in Green Bay and St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan.

Hospitals and clinics tell us no patient information has been compromised. They also say the system outage doesn't affect services to patients.

"The health care organizations locally weren't victims of the malware attack. Nuance was the victim of the malware attack. The information that the health care organizations have locally weren't at risk," Dr. Ashok Rai, president/CEO of Prevea Health, said.

Prevea says the outage has created more work for doctors and nurses, who've taken to transcribing the information themselves and storing it locally.

"(Nuance) recognized that right away, we recognized that right away, and stopped sending them those files and they stopped receiving those files while they sort through to get their operations back on safely," Rai said.

Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay said, "While our transcription vendor has recently encountered some challenges, we’ve deployed backup systems to ensure that patient care is not impacted."

"Patients don't even know what's going on because this is a back office issue that's related to our third party vendor," Bellin Chief Marketing Officer Tom Arndt told us. "And I must emphasize that it's only affecting a small number of providers in the Bellin system. Most of the Bellin system physician providers are using a different, alternative system to get dictation into the medical records."

ThedaCare says it became aware of the problem on Tuesday. "To ensure patient safety and communication of care, we are working with our providers to use alternatives to dictation and transcription."

Nuance confirmed this week that "portions of our network were affected by a global malware incident."

The company said it's still working to recover its network servers and determine when services will be back online. In the meantime, it's offering clients the use of its other speech-recognition systems for dictation.

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