Friday, July 19, 2024


NHLS apologises for blood result delays following cyber attack

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The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has said that while all its laboratories are operational following a cyber-attack, the issuing of test results to clinicians remains an issue.

“Under normal circumstances, the laboratory reports are automatically generated and sent to clinicians or made available on WebView, this incident has disabled that functionality. However, all urgent results are communicated telephonically to requesting clinicians,” the NHLS said in a statement on Wednesday

The NHLS announced late last month that it was hit by a cyber-attack, which compromised its systems and infrastructure.

In the meantime, the State-owned diagnostic pathology service provider said it was still implementing alternative plans and steps to maintain business continuity.

The NHLS has since distributed a critical test list to all health facilities.

“This is done to limit the volume of test requests, allowing laboratories to cope with the workload. However, this does not imply that routine tests will not be performed.”

In addition, the service provider had to come up with ways of making tuberculosis (TB) and HIV viral load historical test results available to clinicians.

“More tests, prioritising those on the critical test list, will be made available. In addition, we are in the process of developing an electronic registration system for registering new samples and providing test results electronically. Access to laboratory results will be the same as the historical TB and HIV viral test results.”

According to the NHLS, its current focus is to bring all its systems back online by the estimated mid-July to ensure end-user access remains.

“The NHLS is handling this challenge with extreme urgency to ensure the timely and secure recovery of all affected operations.”

Meanwhile, the organisation has since opened a case with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and informed all the relevant regulatory bodies about the breach.

“The NHLS views this attack in a serious light with significant worry and is treating the situation with great urgency. The breach has endangered the safety and well-being of millions of public health patients.”

The Board and its leadership team have apologised for the inconvenience caused by this occurrence and assured the public that the organisation is taking all necessary steps to resolve the situation.

“Despite the incident, the NHLS remains fully committed to providing high-quality diagnostic services to the public. The NHLS appreciates all stakeholders’ patience and the support we continue to receive during this difficult time.”



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