Information for members following the cyberattack on the HSE/Department of Health

24 May 2021

MPS has become aware that Ireland’s Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have recently suffered a ransomware cyberattack, requiring the suspension some functions of its IT systems as a precautionary measure. As a result, public hospitals’ core patient management and core radiology systems are impacted.

Medical Protection is aware in recent days of a cyberattack on the HSE which may have a detrimental impact on the quality of service members can deliver to patients.

We understand members may be working differently and have concerns about their duty of care. This will include considering what is in the best interests of the patient.

Actions you can take

While services are adversely interrupted, you should consider taking the following additional steps while working under the current circumstances:

  • Clearly document in the medical records any limitations on quality of service (for example: access to results, image quality, inability to access previous records, etc.)
  • Document and advise colleagues where clinical diagnosis or interpretation has been impacted by the cyberattack, and make clear if the information provided is provisional and possible to change when full access to services is resumed
  • Ensure the patient is made aware of any limitations of service, what impact this will have on treatment and diagnosis, and explain what options are available to the patient at this time or in the future when full services are resumed
  • If applicable, you may wish to raise concerns, in writing, to your line manager or hospital management to explain the limitations and pressures you are experiencing due to the current circumstances

If you do not feel it is safe to proceed and that to do so would place the patient at greater risk of harm than not undertaking the duty that has been requested, then you should advise whoever has asked you to do so and explain your concerns.

It would be wise to record the details of this deliberation in case it becomes necessary to explain the reasoning behind the decision to act or not to act.

We’re here to help

If you have any concerns about the duties you are currently performing during this incident and how best to manage the risks, please contact our medicolegal advisory team.

We have online resources for members, which can help with record keeping and report writing.

We also encourage members who are feeling work-related stress and burnout, to please contact our counselling service for help and support with their wellbeing.