Sorry, the cat deleted your medical records

2 minute read

No one is safe from keyboard cataclysm.

Your Back Page scribe is no longer a pet owner but has on occasion been the wrangler of a number of felines, several goldfish and an exceptionally ditzy dalmation.

So we are smart enough not to buy into the “cat person” versus “dog person” debates, but we really do enjoy, in a totally non-judgmental way, a good crazy cat yarn.

As most cat owners can attest, our feline companions do seem to have a magnetic attraction to keyboards. From pianos to laptops, if it can be sat on, strolled across, sprawled over, or randomly pawed at, then few keyboards are safe from our mischievous moggies.  

Not even, it transpires, a rather important computer keyboard at the Missouri Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas City, US.

According to media reports a four-hour computer system outage at the medical centre last month, which resulted in the deletion of government-held patient records, was the fault of a keyboard-hopping kitty.

In a scenario befitting a comedy sketch, a “technician was reviewing the configuration of a server cluster” when the cat pounced onto his keyboard and in the process deleted the contents of the server.

“On September 13, 2023, the Kansas City VAMC experienced an issue with image transfer within Vista due to an inadvertent deletion of server profiles,” department press secretary Terrence Hayes told media. “The issue was quickly identified and the system restored within four hours.”

While the Veteran’s Affairs Department is refusing to confirm or deny the feline participation, it is telling that the department’s chief information officer reportedly commented, during a discussion on the incident, “this is why I have a dog”.

Luckily there appear to have been no lasting impacts on the ongoing care of US veterans as a result of the outage, but it does beg the question of just how vulnerable our digital health systems are to cat hackers.  

With the flourishing of home office working following covid, the number of moggies annoyed by the unprecedented presence of their monkey servants during working hours is also booming.

How soon before a genuine cat-astophe occurs?

At the very least, when things go pear-shaped at the coalface, saying the “cat sat on my keyboard” is a much better excuse than “the dog ate my homework”.

Send shaggy dog stories to penny@medicalrep//////;’;’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’………. |\\\\\\\\

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