Hospitals are being bombarded with robocalls, putting patients at risk

Robocalls have become such a significant issue that the FCC recently ruled wireless carriers can start blocking these calls by default. The decision came amid growing frustration over the huge number of robocalls consumers are receiving, with some people reporting more than a dozen calls a day. As it turns out, this problem is impacting hospitals, too.

Robocalls are exactly what they sound like — automatic calls that often spoof the recipient's local area code. The entities behind these calls usually peddle all varieties of scams, including impersonating official agencies and banks, potentially scamming the public out of money, identity information, or both.

A new report from the Washington Post reveals that hospitals are facing this same influx of robocalls, putting patients at risk. The issue was more than just a nuisance in April when Tufts Medical Center in Boston experienced thousands of robocalls that disrupted the hospital's communications network for hours.

In cases like this, hospital workers are unable to communicate with each other and the outside world, effectively bringing the facility to a halt — and potentially putting both doctors and patients at risk as the transmission of vital information slows to a crawl.

In the case of the Tufts Medical Center incident, more than 4500 calls were received over the duration of three hours, all of them in Mandarin, and all of them demanding personal information under threat of deportation. The problem has appeared at other hospitals and medical institutions, as well, prompting criticism directed at regulators and service providers for what many view as a slow, ineffective effort to stop the calls.