Mid-South doctor's office targeted by hackers

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Hackers hit a Memphis doctor's office and demanded thousands as they held patient records as hostage.

A cyber-attack at Primary Care Specialists, a family care practice on Walnut Grove, might have originated from Russia.

Federal law requires Primary Care Specialists to notify patients about the cyber-attack. The notice to the media is just one of the requirements that has meant a lot of extra work for the medical practice. "The only thing I feel good about is that we didn't pay them the money," Dr. Jeff Warren said.

Those behind the attack demanded $10,000 in bitcoins (digital currency).

The instructions came in an email.

"They gave us the instructions on how to wire the bitcoins," Warren said.

The attack happened at the end of February.

Cyber attackers accessed the servers that contained thousands of patient medical records.

It was an astonishing development for the 25-year-old practice.

Warren said patients don't have to worry about their care or their information getting out to others.

"The key thing we want people to know is that no information left the office," Warren said. "All they did is prevent us from getting information."

The hacked records have created a huge headache for the practice, because federal law requires patients to be notified.

The practice has mailed out 22,000 notification letters, including notices sent to the federal government and lawyers.

The cost to Primary Care Specialists could run between $60,000-$70,000 before it is over.

Warren said there is only one way to prevent an attack - paper files.

"It's hard to hack a paper chart," Warren said.

The practice still has many of its paper medical records.

If you are a patient and have questions, you can call 888-750-9219 Monday through Friday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. EST.

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