Simulation tool to prepare cyber attack in oncology preparation unit

5 October 2023

ML Brandely-Piat (Paris - France)

The preparation of injectable chemotherapy by hospital pharmacies is a critical activity. Various events are liable to suddenly disrupt its fonctioning with major impacts on hospital activity and a significant risk to patients.

In recent years, cyber-attacks targeting hospitals have increased and have impacted the functioning of the affected pharmacies, including centralized Cytotoxic Preparation Units (CPU). Feedback highlights our dependence on IT and the importance of being prepared for such events.

Long used in civil aviation and in the nuclear field to train professionals, crisis management simulation has become a common practice in the healthcare sector. Its value in training healthcare workers is widely documented in the literature. Therfore, it was logical to also implement it within hospital pharmacies, particularly CPUs.
The aim is to prepare for dealing with a cyber-attack by conducting a real-life scenario with all stakeholders involved (pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, doctors, IT department, logistics, care management, finance department, etc.). This simulation is followed by a debriefing of the exercise. Crisis management simulations can be used to test the effectiveness of existing procedures, as well as to generate new ideas. Finally, it helps to demystify the crisis.

At the end of the exercise, the establishment of a crisis manual will help collect the tools and procedures to be implemented. These practical elements will enable an efficient response, help overcome the shock generated by such an event and determine the conditions for maintaining activity under secure conditions.

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