UF Health Central Florida hospitals recently notified patients their private information may have been exposed two months ago during a cyber security attack which left hospital personnel resorting to paper and pencil to document patient care.
According to a letter sent to patients from the affected hospitals, unauthorized access to UF Health Central Florida’s computer network occurred between May 29 and May 31, 2021.
“During this brief time period, some patient information may have been accessible, such as names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, health insurance information, medical record numbers and patient account numbers, as well as limited treatment information used by UF Health for its business operations. UF Health’s electronic medical records were not involved or accessed. We have no reason to believe the information was further used or disclosed,” said the letter to patients.
On July 30, 2021, UF Health Leesburg Hospital, UF Health The Villages® Hospital and a number of outpatient and physician clinics affected by the cyber security hack began mailing letters to individuals whose data may have been involved.
As a precautionary measure, patients were offered complimentary credit monitoring and identity protection services. Patients were also encouraged to review statements from their health insurer, and to contact them immediately if they see any services they did not receive. UF Health Cental Florida also established a dedicated call center for patients to call with questions. Any patient who is concerned they may have been affected, but has not received a letter by August 16, is asked to call 1-833-909-3926 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday.
According to UF Health spokesman Frank Faust,“When UF Health Central Florida experienced a cybersecurity event the night of May 31, out of an abundance of caution, the team responded quickly by disconnecting its clinical application network from the organization’s servers and implementing a series of backup and downtime procedures — including relying on paper documentation — to enable staff to continue to provide safe, effective patient care. Since that time, IT teams from UF Health’s Central Florida, Gainesville and Jacksonville campuses have worked diligently in collaboration with outside consultants to investigate the cause of the event and safely restore all computer systems as quickly as possible.”
The UF Health system was restored in late June.
“UF Health information technology team was able to successfully restore our electronic medical record system, representing a major milestone in our journey toward full return to normal network operations. Significant progress has been made in the overall system restoration effort, including successful reintegration of a number of key clinical applications,” Faust said.
Thousands of patients at UF Health Leesburg Hospital, UF Health The Villages® Hospital and a number of outpatient and physician clinics were affected by the cyber security hack.
The Villages-News said the attack was suspected to be caused by ransomware. They reported the attackers reportedly demanded a $5 million ransom, although UF Health would not confirm that.
Faust said the matter is currently under investigation and expects it to take a while to be resolved. “We will provide as much information as possible as the investigation progresses, bearing in mind that security, privacy and law enforcement considerations may impact the amount of detail we can provide.”