Amherstburg, Ontario resident Jennifer Duguay recently experienced a shocking denial of medical care. After being referred for an urgent biopsy for a potential case of inflammatory breast cancer, Duguay was told by Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) that the procedure could not be done due to ongoing computer system issues resulting from a ransomware attack. Feeling helpless and desperate, Duguay reached out to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and successfully got the biopsy done there, leading to the relief of learning that she was negative for cancer.
Duguay’s case is not an isolated incident. WRH, along with four other health-care facilities in southwestern Ontario, has been struggling to recover from the ransomware attack that occurred on October 23. As a result, appointments and procedures have been cancelled or delayed, leaving patients in need of urgent care searching for alternatives.
According to Henry Ford Hospital, several Canadians have sought treatment across the border since the cyber attack. Sam Mossallam, VP and medical director for Henry Ford Health International, stated that they have seen a significant increase in inquiries from Canadians, with patients receiving services such as radiation, biopsies, and various scans. Mossallam also mentioned that the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) has reached out to assess capacity for taking on cancer patients but so far, no patients have been sent over through OHIP.
This situation highlights the vulnerability and lack of resilience in the Canadian health-care system. Sara Allin, associate professor of health policy at the University of Toronto, argues that if one region cannot provide necessary care, other areas should be ready to step in and accommodate those patients. The current situation, where patients are forced to seek care outside the country, points to a larger problem that needs to be addressed.
As patients like Jennifer Duguay continue to face delays and denials of care due to cyber attacks, it is crucial for health-care leaders and government officials to address the lack of resilience in the system. Rebuilding trust and ensuring transparency are essential steps towards creating a more robust and reliable health-care system for all Canadians.
- What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or data until a sum of money is paid by the victim.
- What is a biopsy?
A biopsy is a medical procedure where a sample of tissue or cells is taken from the body to be examined under a microscope for diagnostic purposes.
- What is OHIP?
OHIP stands for Ontario Health Insurance Plan, which provides publicly funded health care in the province of Ontario, Canada.
- What is the Ontario Health Insurance Act?
The Ontario Health Insurance Act is legislation that governs the provision of health care services and funding in the province of Ontario.
- What is the University of Toronto?
The University of Toronto is a public research university located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is one of Canada’s top universities.