Robocalls Are Overwhelming Hospitals and Patients, Threatening a New Kind of Health Crisis

An anonymous reader shares a report: For More Info, Go Here…

In the heart of Boston, Tufts Medical Center treats scores of health conditions, from administering measles vaccines for children to pioneering next-generation tools that can eradicate the rarest of cancers. But doctors, administrators and other hospital staff struggled to contain a much different kind of epidemic one April morning last year: a wave of thousands of robocalls that spread, like a virus, from one phone line to the next, disrupting communications for hours to come.

For most Americans, such robocalls represent an unavoidable digital-age nuisance, resulting in constant interruptions targeting their phones each month. For hospitals, though, the spam calls amount to a literal life-or-death challenge, one that increasingly is threatening doctors and patients in a setting where every second can count. At Tufts Medical Center, administrators registered more than 4,500 calls between about 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. on April 30, 2018, said Taylor Lehmann, the center’s chief information security officer. Many of the messages seemed to be the same: Speaking in Mandarin, an unknown voice threatened deportation unless the person who picked up the phone provided their personal information.

Such calls are common, widely documented scams that seek to swindle vulnerable foreigners, who may surrender their private data out of fear their families and homes are at risk. But it proved especially troubling at Tufts, which is situated amid Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood, Lehmann said. Officials there couldn’t block the calls through their telecom carrier, Windstream, which provides phone and web services to consumers and businesses. “There’s nothing we could do,” Lehmann said Windstream told them.

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