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Malware concern expressed by Rotunda Hospital Master

Prof Fergal Malone described how infection of a system can lead to “encryption of all data that it can access”, reveal minutes of a meeting in September.

The Master noted that a number of “high-profile institutions” in the US had been affected by such malware/ransomware. All available mechanisms “have been implemented in the Rotunda to lessen the chances of the hospital falling victim to an infection”, reported the minutes.

The meeting also heard that a project co-ordinator was in place and “extensive” training and education of staff would be provided before the go-live date.

MI sought further comment from the Rotunda but none had been received by press time.

The Maternal and Newborn Clinical Management System (MN-CMS) went live in Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) in December and will be rolled out nationally this year.

According to the HSE, there are numerous benefits associated with the new system, including improved patient care as a result of better communication, and more efficient recording of information, reflecting best standards in documentation.

The system also allows for alerts to be set up to support clinical decision-making.

A CUMH spokesperson said comprehensive training was undertaken in support of implementation. “This is a national system, hosted centrally in a secure data centre with access only to authorised persons,” noted the spokesperson. “There are other more elaborate security mechanisms in place — but best practice dictates that we do not talk about our security systems. There is a central HSE ICT team within the Office of the Chief Information Officer of the HSE that manages ICT security services.”

She added that ICT policies within the HSE are defined at national level and the HSE does not engage with hackers or others around ‘ransomware’.

HSE Chief Information Officer Mr Richard Corbridge said cyber security issues and protection “are a big part of all healthcare systems” as it is “clear that health is a target”.

However, he added that “we can protect digital information more easily than we can paper information in 2017”.

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