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Doctors locked out of x-rays, test results and medical records


Cork University Hospital

Cork University Hospital

Cork University Hospital

Doctors found themselves locked out of vital x-rays, test results and essential medical records yesterday as the computers which are critical to patient care came under the control of unscrupulous hackers. It left medical teams and staff scrambling to look after patients, many of them in need of urgent treatment.

Cancer patients

Among the worst hit yesterday were cancer patients, many of whom were unable to have radiotherapy or chemotherapy in hospitals such as St Luke’s in Dublin and Cork University Hospital because computer systems were crippled. Some people who were due the results of vital tests were unable to access them. Professor Seamus O’ Reilly, a Cork University oncologist said treatments were delayed because doctors could not secure lab and other results. It is still unclear what will happen over the coming days.

Scans and tests

Crucial equipment needed for diagnosis, including CT scans and MRI scans were left disabled. Most hospital appointments are still going ahead as planned but x-rays are severely affected, according to the HSE.

Out-patient clinics

People are being advised to turn up for hospital out-patient appointments unless contacted. However, some hospitals such as Connolly Hospital in Dublin will decide tomorrow whether clinics will go ahead on Monday. Several hospitals are already cancelling clinics on Monday, including the Rotunda Hospital which has postponed gynaecology and colposcopy clinics. In-patient non-emergency surgeries are also cancelled in the Rotunda. Nationally, the HSE said most virtual appointments between specialists and patients will go ahead but some are cancelled. Some are being switched to phone calls.

Covid-19 vaccinations

Vaccinations will go ahead for those who have an appointment in a vaccination centre or GP surgery. The portal for new resgistrations for a vaccine from people in their 50s and 60s was not working earlier yesterday, but this had been resolved yesterday evening.

Covid-19 tests

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GPs are not able to refer a patients with potential symptoms of Covid-19 for a test electronically. However, they are still being directed to open HSE test centres where they are accepted. However, there can be delay in getting test results. It is important that if someone is waiting for a result they need to self-isolate in their room. Contact tracing of people who may have been put at risk by someone found to have the virus is continuing but as of yesterday it was confined to two centres and is taking longer than usual.

Child protection

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, said its systems are currently not operating. This includes email, internal systems, and the portal through which child protection referrals are made. This measure is for security reasons due to the cyber attack. Anyone wishing to make a referral can do so by contacting the local Tusla office in their area. Its main website is continuing to operate and has details of local offices.

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