Hospital pays a bitcoin ransom! Was there a HIPAA Violation?

19 February 2016 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center reportedly paid “the equivalent of $17,000 in bitcoins to restore control of its computer systems” according to Judy Greenwald’s report in on February 18, 2016.  Although there was no alleged HIPAA violation reported the Medical Center, a private 434-bed facility, issued a statement on February 5 that the “malware locked access to certain computer systems and prevented us from sharing communications electronically.”

Judy’s report included these comments:

…doctors at the hospital were forced to rely on telephones and fax machines to relay patient information, and communications between physicians and staff were bogged down by paper records and difficulty deciphering doctors’ handwriting. There were also reports that ambulances had been diverted from the hospital.

The hospital received a ransom demand of 40 bitcoins, which is the equivalent of about $17,000, to obtain the decryption key to unlock the system, and paid it.

Stay tuned to see if the Medical Center is penalized for a HIPAA violation.

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