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NE Ohio doctor's office temporarily closed after company that stores patient records was hacked

Posted at 4:16 PM, Jan 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-24 17:43:19-05

It is some of the most intimate information about ourselves. Right now, one of the companies in charge of keeping it safe and confidential is scrambling to recover from a cyber-attack.

The medical records of more than 7 million Americans were held hostage by ransomware.

The high-tech crime is forcing doctors to temporarily shutter their offices.

Thousands of patients in Northeast Ohio are being turned away.

Doctors we caught up with at Pulmonary Physicians in Canton tell News 5 they have no choice.

They cannot access vital information to properly care for their patients, so for now, they are canceling appointments.

A strange sight as waiting rooms usually packed with patients sit empty.

"It has prevented us from being able to see patients in the office," said Dr. George Kefalas.

The cyber-attack also leaving the exam rooms at Pulmonary Physicians eerily quiet.

"Previous outages have been for maybe an hour, hour and a half at a time."

For the fifth day, Dr. George Kefalas and his staff have been unable to access medical records for their 8,500 patients.

"The information is held in a cloud," said Kefalas.

Allscripts, the company that keeps it stored on servers for 180,000 physicians, was hit by hackers Thursday.

This is the message you hear when you call Allscripts: “Please note we are currently experiencing an outage in our cloud hosted environment. We are working to restore service as soon as possible."

Scheduling, test results, medications are all offline.

“This outage is by far the biggest one and it's the first one associated with what appears to be a ransom-ware attack," said Kefalas.

Kefalas is telling his patients their medical records have not been compromised.

"There does not appear to be any data that appears to be stolen or any information that has been lost," said Kefalas.

Kefalas, who calls this a wake-up call, wants to see backup systems put in place in case something like this happens again.

"The frustration obviously is very high when an office is full of patients and you can't really take care of them as you are used to doing," said Kefalas.

News 5 reached out to Allscripts Wednesday to try and get a timeline as to when patient information will be back up and to find out what’s being done to prevent another attack but we did not hear back.

According to its website, it stores medical records for 45,000 physician practices across the country.