Patient dies after ransomware attack reroutes her to remote hospital

Photograph of the backdoor of an ambulance.

Enlarge (credit: Andrew Malone / Flickr)

A woman seeking emergency treatment for a life-threatening condition died after a ransomware attack crippled a nearby hospital in Duesseldorf, Germany, and forced her to obtain services from a more distant facility, it was widely reported on Thursday.

German authorities are investigating the unknown perpetrators on suspicion of negligent manslaughter, the Associated Press, German news outlet NTV, and others reported on Thursday. The event under investigation occurred last Friday when the unidentified woman was turned away from Duesseldorf University Hospital because a ransomware attack hampered its ability to operate normally. The woman was rushed to a hospital about 20 miles away, resulting in about a one-hour delay in treatment. She died.

So far, little is known publicly about the ransomware strain or the attackers involved in the infection, which began last Thursday, about 24 hours before the death occurred. A report from the North Rhine-Westphalia state justice minister said that the attack encrypted about 30 hospital servers and left a message instructing the Heinrich Heine University, to which the Duesseldorf hospital is affiliated, to contact the attackers.

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