back to article Zombie OS lurches through Royal Melbourne Hospital spreading virus

The pathology wing of the Royal Melbourne Hospital in the Australian state of Victoria is suffering from an virus infection on its Windows XP PCs. The hospital runs one of the southern state's largest networks and emergency departments. Its blood bank has fallen back to manual processes for processing blood, tissue, and urine …

  1. mr. deadlift

    was waiting for this one.

    Aha! read this one on the age at 10:30 last night and just shook my head.

    Was waiting, just waiting for it crop up on El Reg.

    I hope whoever claims IT responsibility gets a foot-up-arse. Ideally more than once.

    I bet they are on a pretty pay packet too.

    And bollocks to there wasn't enough money or what ever the lame excuse it is they may have for running these 15 year old os'.

    No excuse for someone who gets paid a fuck ton of money to be running these machines in production environments.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: was waiting for this one.

      There but for the grace of god. I work for the NHS and my department holds large amounts of patient gynaecological/sexual health data (so not sensitive at all) and after I raised blue murder (I am not even the IT guy here) we finally got our W7 Enterprise workstations late last year, thank goodness. I got glazed looks from senior management when I highlighted the problem. Luckily they picked up words like "compliance" and "Caldicotte Guardian" though and to be fair they turned the super tanker around at almost large-frigate speed, bless 'em. Better late than never. I think we are still on IE8 or 9 though but you cannot have everything and I am sure it is next on the list (or we switch to Chrome). Another impressive thing about (at least where I work) is that no one has USB sticks, IM etc. We even have to surrender & shred any printout with patient data at all before we clock-off. It is not all bad!*

      I'll make my bosses they get to look at the above article to reinforce the wisdom of not rolling the dice.

      *That will have jinxed it: massive NHS patient data breach due in under 48 hours. :(

  2. frank ly

    It's a modern meme

    "A spokeswoman for the hospital said patient safety is its highest priority ..."

    1. Bbbbit

      Re: It's a modern meme

      But do they also take data security "very seriously"?

  3. Phil Kingston

    Dept of Health in WA still have a bunch of XP. They may well be next.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Tim99 Silver badge

      @Phil Kingston

      When most of the rest of us were using Windows 2000, XP, or even 7, I was asked to install our specialist shrink-wrapped software on a couple of non-critical PCs on a network in one of the main WA hospitals. Our software would not install, as their SOE used Windows 95 with Netware, which we no longer supported. I was, as a special case concession, allowed to upgrade the OS to Windows 98SE.

    3. glen waverley

      @ phil kingston

      Aha. So that explains the all-singing all-dancing paperless patient management system at fiona stanley hossie.

  4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge


    My guess they are using XP because of a combination of inertia (really dim PHBs er politicians) and some key hardware and software only runs on XP (or earlier). Still what is infection?

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: XP?

      Maybe it's really cheap these days.

  5. LaeMing

    I am hoping NSW is not so bad simply because a few months back I ran into one of the contractors that did major upgrades to my Uni's systems several years ago* and he said his crew were being kept very busy up and down the coast doing hospital PC and infrastructure upgrades.

    Can't speak for the hospitals, but the team got a lot of experience with modenising ancient computers hooked up to archaic and long-unsupported equipment at the Uni. (hence the need for contractors on top of the regular IT unit).

    *I was a contractor on that team too at the time, but the Uni. picked me up full-time for a non-related tech role out in the faculties.

  6. gollux

    Be ready...

    for another jump in the pricing of Affordable Health Care. All that expense has to be paid for somewhere, between drug companies thinking that they should increase the price on 60 year old pill compositions and the need to flush current technology out the door every 3-5 years in order to keep ahead of computer criminals. Next time you want an explanation on where the health industry is headed, go flush a toilet and observe the swirl.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A venerable hospital, staffed with competent people

    Follow the fail-trail back to Government funding, or lack thereof.

  8. Trixr

    Now they've spent a sh!tload on manual fallback, and are preparing to pay ransom money for XP crap, and now the public embarrassment and loss of confidence to the public, perhaps they could actually spend funds on UPGRADING the systems.

    Yeah, yeah, I know some old physical kit may well have some "turnkey" XP back end that can't be decoupled from it. If it hasn't reached the end of life, isolate those consoles from any network and superglue the usbs and CDs. For anything else that isn't attached to your multi-million dollar MRI machine that is currently mid-life, UPGRADE.

    (Yes, I know what it's like ferreting out old applications, asking the vendor if there's an upgrade, purchasing and implementing said upgrades (or writing new code), and migrating data, but that can all be done if tackled incrementally and thoroughly. And sometimes the solution is better, if you actually spend some time on requirements analysis first, ha! ha! ha!).

  9. cantankerous swineherd

    ditch the computers and use manual systems. cheap and secure, choose any 2.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Hmm, yesterday I had my heart looked at.

      A small machine that has only three pads to connect and a tiny ultrasound probe.

      It records stills, movies and audio.

      It replaces four large machines and involves only one visit.

      Manual systems?


      VHS or Super8?

      Wax cylinder or shellac disc?

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Hmm, yesterday I had my heart looked at.

        Had mine checked last Wednesday. Brand new machine and it took twice as long as on the old machine it had replaced. The operator said the new interface was illogical and confusing, and had nothing good to say about the engineers responsible.

  10. Elmer Phud

    M.O.D. purchases

    Coming to a submarine near you -- real soon.

    1. Bbbbit

      Re: M.O.D. purchases

      You must have seen the same terrifying Royal Navy advert as I have.

      Be afraid...

  11. Adrian Midgley 1

    Buying closed source and running

    it in Windows.

    Which way did it go badly this time?

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