First case over information accessed in HSE cyberattack lodged for cancer patient in Cork

The first case over the leaking of medical information as part of the cyberattack on the HSE’s IT systems has been lodged at Cork Circuit Court.

The case has been taken against Mercy University Hospital (MUH) by a middle-aged man who received cancer treatment at the hospital, according to the Irish Examiner.

The case was lodged on Monday by Glanmire-based solicitor, Micheál O’Dowd, acting on behalf of the man, who said some of the man’s medical files had appeared on the dark web following the cyberattack.

Mr O’Dowd added he has other clients in a similar situation for whom he expects to also lodge legal proceedings. All of the cases relate to people who received cancer treatment, he said.

Mr O’Dowd said his client “cannot speak highly enough of the treatment he got in the Mercy”, adding he received the “all clear” shortly before the cyberattack. The man wishes to remain anonymous, however, “has consented to his cause being publicised without any identifying information,” Mr O’Dowd said.

A spokesperson for MUH said the hospital cannot comment in advance of legal proceedings.

Attack

In May, the health service became aware of an attack on its IT systems, bringing the HSE to an almost standstill, impacting services, equipment, and access to patient records.

Services were scaled back in hospitals around the country, with radiology and laboratory work particularly impacted. Many outpatient appointments and elective surgeries were also cancelled.

The criminal organisation behind the attack sought a $20 million ransom to unlock the systems which had been encrypted, however, officials would not pay it, in line with State procedures. Later that month, some of the stolen data appeared on the dark web, including patient files and minutes of meetings.

In the latest update on the matter earlier this month, the HSE confirmed 80 per cent of servers and devices had been decrypted, adding it will take some more time before the health service is back to full functionality.

Officials also said the attack is likely to have cost the HSE in the region of half a billion euro.

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