Saskatoon

Ransomware attack on eHealth forces 31 cancer patients to re-schedule radiation treatment

A computer attack on Jan. 6 forced almost 40 cancer patients in Saskatoon and Regina to re-schedule appointments.

Six patients booked for chemotherapy also affected

Saskatchewan Cancer Agency officials say they disconnected from the eHealth network after learning of the hack. (Jason Warick/CBC)

A ransomware attack on the computer system that stores confidential medical data for Saskatchewan residents ended up affecting almost 40 patients getting cancer treatment in Saskatoon and Regina.

The attack on eHealth Saskatchewan began Jan. 6. Antivirus software immediately began sending alerts to staff.

When eHealth officials attempted to open files on affected servers they received a message that the files had been encrypted and would remain inaccessible until a payment was made.

The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency oversees the two cancer clinics in Saskatoon and Regina. It disconnected from the eHealth network after learning of the assault on the system.

While the move served to protect patient data, it also meant that staff could not immediately access provincial lab results, imaging pathology and pharmacy and medical information.

The clinics have contingency plans for when the electronic records are not accessible but it took time to co-ordinate retrieving the information.

As a result, 31 patients booked for radiation and another six with chemotherapy appointments had their treatment delayed by between 24 and 48 hours.

Each patient was given a personal explanation and apology for the delay and inconvenience, officials with Saskatchewan Cancer Agency said in an emailed statement.

The agency fully reconnected with the eHealth network on Jan. 14.

About the Author

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now