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Metro Detroit nurses union worries about patient safety amid Ascension hospital cyberattack fallout

Metro Detroit nurses concerned over patient safety amid Ascension cyberattack
Metro Detroit nurses concerned over patient safety amid Ascension cyberattack 02:36

ROCHESTER, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) — Ascension hospitals around the country are still dealing with the fallout from a ransomware attack, and Metro Detroit nurses are worried about patient safety.

For the last two weeks, doctors and nurses at Ascension hospitals in more than a dozen states haven't had access to patient electronic medical records because of a massive ransomware attack.

"There are many times patients forget to tell you a complete record. Especially with our older folks, we want to take the best possible care we can of them," said Dina Carlisle, a registered nurse and president of OPEIU Local 40.

OPEIU Local 40 represents over 300 nurses at Ascension Providence Rochester, where the attack forced staff to document everything using pen and paper. This sudden shift has not been without risks. 

"The nurses are taking a written order, overriding the medication in the Pyxis, which is the machine that dispenses the medication," Carlisle said. That check and balance is gone. And even with lab work, labs are being ordered. They're being lost. People don't know where the patients are that the lab work goes to."

Carlisle said that despite these challenges, the hospital hasn't scaled back its services. She says there was one day last week when 38 surgeries were done.

"Not every one of these patients had their lab work returned before they went into the O.R. This is a serious concern," Carlisle said. 

CBS News Detroit contacted Ascension regarding OPEIU Local 40 concerns but didn't hear back when his article was published.

The hospital system has set up a special page on its website regarding the attack. In its last update on Tuesday, it didn't have a timeline on when the issues might be resolved but they are working with cybersecurity experts to investigate the attack and to rebuild and restore its systems securely.

"I wish we could work with a hospital more closely and get safety protocols in line. The nurses are seeing it every day. We could we could work with them. We want to work with them. But that's not what's happening," Carlisle said.

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