In the wake of a paralyzing computer problem that hobbled the nation’s flagship hospital system, some patients are dying waiting to see doctors and nurses amid growing shortages of medical personnel, journalists and patient advocacy groups told Fox News on Friday.
The digital blackout lasted for eight hours on Wednesday at the Nozyk Clinic in Warsaw, a facility that is home to the Radiology, Rhon of Medicine and Fertility Centers and the State Institute of Nuclear Medicine, according to the New York Times. Doctors and nurses said they did not know how many patients might have been affected.
The patient advocacy group Władysław Połorkowski Institute of Medical Practice said it was working to ensure that patients who attended the Radiology Lab did not face delays, while the Ródzi hospital, Władysław Dęiwnski Institute of Medicine and the Center for Health, Education and Rehabilitation in the same building as the Nozyk are also struggling.
“The most recent attack has postponed, even stopped, major activities, seriously damage the functioning of the patient management system, leaving all their clinical treatments and tests without confirmation of the results, necessitating preventive measures and ongoing work within the medical team of the institution, including automatic transfer of all patient patients due to the stoppage of work and provision of the required clinical services,” the Warsaw hospital’s statement read.
Doctors told the Times that they’ve received few orders of pagers and that hospitals in other cities have been hard-pressed to keep functioning while the Nozyk Hospital system struggled.
“There have been several attacks on our computer that are causing delays in registration, administration, physicians sending out orders. This morning we were able to handle them, but the orders for [Thursday] could take 15 to 20 minutes to arrive. This is just a country hospital. That is normal, and there is not much one can do. There is no way to reduce the pressure on the system. But it’s a big issue,” Dr. Wojciech Biernacki told the newspaper.
The hospital would not confirm its scope, saying “the true nature of the technical problem remains confidential.”
Uwe Kanierka, a spokesman for the hospital system, told the Times the “system is working now in a normal fashion,” but did not explain why it appeared to be up and running.
The health care system’s chief told television stations Poland is “trying to alleviate the conflict,” but added, “I’m sorry to say it is a complex problem.”
Sarah Blanchard, a Ukrainian nurse who’d worked at Poland’s Nozyk Clinic, tweeted that some patients had died in the system’s downtown facility because doctors there only had access to basic updates on their phones and computers.
“All the cardiac patients, stroke patients, and women’s health patients on an ongoing drug combination were not admitted because they had no access to medication information,” Blanchard said. “People in wheelchairs and using walkers were often left unattended. The system looked and felt like the Berlin Wall collapsing and nobody cared.”
Blanchard claimed the system’s inability to communicate with patients in the field was the fault of the authorities who promised to quickly fix the problem.
President Andrzej Duda said in a statement on the government website that he had “notified … the health minister and the hospital leadership of the situation on the networks operated by the Nozyk Clinic.”
This is not the first time Nozyk Clinic system has been plagued by computer problems. In December 2017, thousands of emergency patients were not able to access emergency room services.
Michael Caplan, a Yale Law School researcher, told The New York Times he believed that there was a “persistent, systematic institutional problem” at the Nozyk Clinic and said he had fielded complaints from several people who were given the all-clear only to find later that they were still waiting for their doctors.
“Their treatment has been interrupted. The process of getting a doctor’s appointment with them is slowed. They are in a vulnerable position,” he said.