Lawsuit claims hospital hack to blame for baby's death
The infant tragically died 9 months after her complicated delivery.
Computer outages resulting from a cyberattack on a US hospital caused a baby to die, a lawsuit alleges.
Springhill Medical Centre, a hospital in Mobile, Alabama, has denied allegations that the outages led staff to miss early signs of trouble and ultimately resulted in a baby girl's death.
On July 16, 2019, Teiranni Kidd entered the hospital to give birth with no knowledge of the hack the hospital was facing.
Her daughter, Nicko Silar, was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, cutting off her blood and oxygen supply. The baby girl suffered severe brain damage and tragically died nine months later.
According to the Wall Street Journal, computers on every floor of the hospital had been down for nearly eight days as a result of the attack, meaning patient records were inaccessible and maternity staff were cut off from equipment that monitors foetal heartbeats.
Monitors usually alert delivery teams when a baby's oxygen and blood supply is being cut off.
Dr. Katelyn Parnell, the attending obstetrician, later texted a nurse manager that she would have delivered the baby by emergency C-section had she seen the monitor readout. "I need u to help me understand why I was not notified," she wrote, while she described the incident as "preventable" in another text.
Ms. Kidd is now suing the hospital, alleging that the status of Nicko's condition never made it to Dr. Parnell as a result of the hack.
The hospital denies any wrongdoing, claiming the attack was handled appropriately and that the responsibility to inform Ms. Kidd about the hack fell on Dr. Parnell, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
In a court filing, Dr. Parnell said that while she had been aware of the ransomware attack, she “believed Ms. Kidd could safely deliver her baby” at the hospital when she was admitted.
Ransomeware attacks on hospitals have been on the increase globally for several years, with the largest known attack against a health service computer system being launched on Ireland's HSE back in May.
36% of US-based medical centres attacked by hackers said they saw more complications in medical procedures in the hack aftermath, while 22% reported higher death rates.