Alabama Mom Sues Hospital, Blames Ransomware for Death

Nurses coping with computer outages and missed signs of fetal distress
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2021 12:49 PM CDT
Mother Sues Hospital, Blames Baby's Death on Ransomware
Stock image of a heartbeat monitor printout.   (iStock / Getty Images)

(Newser) – Nicko Silar was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. She suffered brain damage and died nine months later. Her mother, Teiranni Kidd, is suing the hospital, claiming Nicko’s death was preventable. Her own doctor, obstetrician Katelyn Parnell apparently agreed that the baby’s birth injury could have been prevented, saying so in a text message to the hospital’s nurse manager, the Wall Street Journal reports. Parnell knew the Mobile, Alabama, hospital where Nicko was born on July 16, 2019, was struggling with a ransomware attack, but thought Kidd would be able to deliver safely. Kidd did not know about the attack at the time. The hospital, Springhill Medical Center, worked around the attack instead of paying the ransom, relying on older technology. Hospitals are prime targets because attackers apparently believe administrators will pay up to save lives. Kidd’s lawsuit claims that the attack cost her daughter her life.

Springhill staff didn’t even know about the attack at first, per the WSJ. The hospital said it would not affect patient care, but an anesthesiologist who worked there during the attack, Jeffrey Planchard, disagreed, telling WSJ that “having access to previous anesthesiology records is crucial.” While Kidd was in labor, nurses were coping with a lack of monitors. Instead of a monitor at a nurse’s station visible to all the staff in the department, Nicko’s fetal heartbeat was being printed out onto a paper strip with only one nurse checking on it. Parnell said she would have done an emergency Caesarean section had she seen the signs of distress recorded on the paper. But Nicko was born unresponsive, needing CPR. She spent her short life needing constant care. The hospital denied any wrongdoing, and blamed Parnell, the obstetrician, CBS News reports. (Read more ransomware stories.)

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