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Emergency departments seriously affected by cyber attack – IAEM

By Mindo - 18th May 2021

emergency sign

The Irish Association of Emergency Medicine (IAEM) has issued a statement on the serious impact the recent cyberattack has had on the country’s emergency departments (EDs).

While Ireland’s 28 EDs and 11 injury units remain open, all have been affected by the incident.

“The public needs to understand how this complete absence of the ICT backbone of the service will impact on them and the role they can play in lessening the patient safety risk of not having access to key data,” the IAEM said in a statement.

“While some hospitals are harder hit than others, many of the difficulties are common.”

Electronic ordering of blood tests, x-rays and scans are not available.

“We do not have access to previous x-ray or scan images or results,” according to the Association. “If an x-ray has to be requested it has to reviewed in real time on the machine used by the radiographer to take the image. This is a painfully slow, time-consuming process which interferes with the radiographer’s workflow, further adding to delays.”

The IAEM stressed only those with a need for emergency treatment should attend an ED.

“Serious consideration should be given to attending other services not impacted by the absence of ICT (primary care, private hospital services), where these services exist and/or are appropriate to the clinical issue,” according to the Association.

“While ED medical and nursing staff will do their best to attend to those presenting, care will be provided first to those with the greatest need for care and there will inevitably be delays in patient throughput.”
For those that do attend, attendees are urged to bring information, such as a medical record number/patient chart number, due to the fact that patient administration systems are not accessible.
“Current medication lists, prescriptions and discharge summaries from previous episodes of care (where patients /carers have access to these) are also very useful,” according to the IAEM.

“…It is important that members of the public understand how difficult the provision of care is in the current unprecedented situation and that this situation is likely to continue for some considerable time. We ask for your forbearance as we try to help you as best we can.
In an update on the effects of the cyber attack, the HSE stated many EDs are “very busy and patients requiring non-urgent care should expect significant delays”.

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