Health Care Workers, Patients Share Concerns About Scripps Health's Handling of Cyberattack

A patient recovering from surgery Mercy Hospital said his level of care has been excellent but thinks Scripps leadership needs to be more transparent

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On Day 6 of the Scripps Health cyberattack, the health-care provider's website is still unavailable, as is specific information for patients and staff.

Jason Cabot showed up Wednesday morning to Mercy Hospital, unsure if he would be able to have his procedure performed.

“Preparing for surgery is difficult," Cabot said. "Besides needing to get up at about 4:30 in the morning, you have to not eat anything for an entire day, you have to empty your bowels, you have to do all sorts of prep work."

NBC 7's Dana Griffin spoke to a patient whose wait for surgery has been extended by the cyberattack.

While Cabot's surgery was performed, he had no idea if it was still on the schedule in the days leading up to it.

Cabot told NBC 7 he called and emailed Scripps beforehand.

“They had no access to patient records,” Cabot said. “And that email bounced back because all of Scripps emails are down.”

Cabot then wrote this message on the Scripps Facebook page:

“I have surgery scheduled for tomorrow morning and have heard absolutely nothing. I have been fasting all day and plan to show up at the hospital [at] 5 a.m. as instructed but will be very disappointed if this surgery is canceled. I have been waiting a long time for it.”

Scripps Health officials are not answering specific questions about Saturday’s cyberattack, but someone is responding to patients’ questions via Scripps Facebook account, reports NBC 7's Dana Griffin.

Once at the hospital, Cabot said, workers were using paper charts.

“It was frankly a little bit like being in the hospital in the '80s and '90s before the advent of computerized systems," Cabot said. “Everything was being done by paper.”

Cabot also said that during his visit he saw a relatively young surgeon who was irate about not having access to records and who canceled on another patient right on the spot.

“Now, the surgeon I had was an older guy who was more experienced, so I think he was around before computerized systems were widely used,” Cabot said, “But there were definitely younger staff there who had only worked with computerized systems, and they were obviously out of their element a little bit.”

NBC 7 heard from a patient who needed care while the attack was affecting the network's system, and from a cyber security expert about the scope of the attack.

NBC 7 also spoke with a nurse who asked to remain anonymous. She said it was frantic inside her Scripps Health facility. She said nurses were crying and feeling uncomfortable, and that some believed Scripps was downplaying the impacts of the outage.

The nurse added that doctors can cancel elective procedures, especially when they don’t have a patient’s history. She said doing so would be for the patient’s own safety. She’s more concerned, though -- because nurses can’t look information up online -- about people having heart attacks or strokes, and those who can’t speak for themselves and don’t know their medical history

Cabot said the quality of care was very good, but he still had concerns about personal information getting exposed because of the cyberattack and staff being kept in the dark.

On Monday afternoon, the heath-care provider had one of its media representatives send a statement from what appeared to be a personal Gmail account, reports NBC 7's Dana Griffin.

“[Workers] don’t know, sort of, what the cause of this is, when it’s gonna go back up or what to expect as far as how long this is gonna go forward," Cabot said. "So, obviously, as far as the Scripps leadership is concerned, I certainly think this could have been handled in a better way.”

NBC 7 asked a Scripps Health spokesman again on Thursday to provide more info about the malware that had infected their technology systems and when the health system expects to be back online. The spokesman declined to comment.

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