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Published on February 2nd, 2019 📆 | 4312 Views ⚑


Zero-Day Virus Forces EHR Downtime at 21 Health Science North Hospitals

On Thursday morning, staff at Canada-based HSN at Sudbury discovered a virus infected its computer system; officials put its system on downtime to contain the exploit.

 - The computer system of Sudbury, Ontario-based Health Sciences North was infected by a zero-day virus, driving officials to shut down its EHR to contain the infection, according to local news outlet CBC Radio-Canada.

Staff at the Sudbury Hospital discovered the hack on Thursday morning, prompting the system downtime to prevent the virus from spreading. Dominic Giroux, Health Sciences North CEO told CBC Radio-Canada that the virus came from another hospital in the region. And there’s been no request for ransom.

“By zero-day virus, I mean that it is a virus that is not captured by the current anti-virus tools that are available on the market,” Giroux told CBC Radio-Canada. “All 24 hospitals in the region rely on our information technology platform or systems, one way or the other.”


To protect the other hospitals, officials have implemented other preventative measures, including shutting down some systems. Giroux explained that out of its 24 hospitals, 21 are currently operating with the main electronic health record system on downtime.

Further, 12 hospitals have the cancer system on downtime, while 10 have turned off the medical imaging systems. Giroux explained that four hospitals shut down the email and office software.

“Because all hospitals in the region rely on our platform, once [the virus] reached HSN we took all the preventive measures to avoid contamination,” Giroux said. “Those preventive measures were successful.”

“It is really one system, our cancer program system, where the virus did infect the system,” he continued. “But we had good backup data, so we will be able to restore information. So we're confident that by Friday, we will begin restoring our most major systems for Health Sciences North.”

Those appointments will likely be rescheduled over the weekend for those patients, even though the cancer center is typical shutdown during that time. Other hospitals are also experiencing care interruption, including slowly the efficiency of services, Giroux explained.

That includes automation of testing: “The information needs literally to be walked across the hospital or across various sites,” said Giroux.

Giroux recommended those patients with non-urgent care needs to consider visiting a walk-in clinic or using a telehealth platform.

“Certain elective procedures and surgeries in the next 24-48 hours may be rescheduled,” according to “Patients are in the process of being rescheduled for treatment later this week and into the weekend. Those patients impacted will be notified.”

Currently, the Health Science North website is down, presumably due to the zero-day attack.

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