Kern Medical Center experienced a "sickness" of its own after a malicious software virus attacked its computers and servers. After round-the-clock maintenance to restore the computer servers, the hospital will upgrade its anti-virus system to make sure this cyber attack does not happen again. The virus caused the system to slow down so much that it was almost impossible to access patient information.
"Our information systems, our data and past data from patients is absolutely critical," Dale Robbins with the Emergency Department, said. "Without sounding too cliche, it can make the difference sometimes between life and death."
The virus hit last month and it took two weeks to clean up the system. "We were basically flying in the blind," Robbins said.
Printers constantly spit out paper with meaningless computer code and pornography was also downloaded on some hospital computers. More than 800 computers were attacked, but the system was quarantined to make sure it didn't affect other county computers.
"We think it came in from an undetected e-mail attachment and that somebody opened something that they should not have, and on it went from there," William Fawns with the county's Information Technology Services said.
Similar attacks have happened in other hospitals, but officials said the virus could have been much worse.
"A Chicago hospital took 12 months to recover," Fawns said. "Another hospital had an extortion note slipped under the CEO's door."
The hospital does not know if this was someone's prank, but the consequences of an attack like this is severe. In this case, patient care was not affected and the virus mainly targeted administrative areas.
Kern Medical Center is working toward putting in a better security system to make sure future attacks don't happen. The FBI is investigating the origin of the attack, but unfortunately when the computer systems were restored that information may have been lost.