Many Arizona residents protect their personal information by installing software on their computers to scan files and directories for viruses and malware. The sophisticated electronic equipment used by hospitals and clinics often have similar anti-virus programs installed, and they generally operate much in the same way. Such software is often programmed to run scans automatically at times that the equipment it protects is unlikely to be in use, but this was not what happened in February 2016 at a major American hospital.
According to an FDA report, an anti-virus program installed on a device used during heart surgery began running during an operation. This rendered the device unusable, and the doctors and nurses involved then scrambled to reboot the operating room's computer system to prevent any harm coming to the patient. The FDA says that this rebooting process caused vital medical equipment to be off-line for almost five minutes.
A subsequent investigation determined that the personnel who installed the anti-virus software had not followed the installation instructions and had erred by scheduling the program to run every hour. Hospitals rely on this kind of software to protect them against the kind of cyber attack that prompted a health care provider in the nation's capital to revert back to using paper records in April 2016 after hackers took their electronic systems completely offline. A California hospital paid hackers $17,000 after a similar attack installed ransomware on their computer system in March 2016.
Hospitals may face medical malpractice lawsuits when patients are harmed as a result of unsanitary conditions, inadequate staffing levels or improperly maintained equipment. Attorneys with experiences in this area may also initiate malpractice litigation against medical professionals when a worsened medical condition results from treatment that does not meet generally accepted medical standards.