In your line of work, people come to you every day with symptoms. Chest pains. Chills. Blurred vision. Toothaches. And every day you draw on your years of medical, optometry, or dental training and your skills as a diagnostician to figure what’s wrong and how to fix it. As a healthcare professional, it’s what you do.

But when it comes to diagnosing a computer virus, it’s not uncommon for healthcare providers to say in frustration, “Beats me why this computer’s acting so weird!” Not uncommon either to hope that a simple re-boot will solve the problem. Sometimes it does. Not every computer malfunction is caused by a virus.  For instance, if your system seems to be slower than usual, it could be a computer virus, or it could just be an indication that too many programs are running at once.

That said, it’s still a good idea to be aware of some of the most common symptoms that can alert you to the fact that your computer might be infected. Here, in no particular order, are 6 symptoms of a possible virus:

  • Your system doesn’t start normally. Instead of your usual program icons popping into view when you boot up, the infamous Blue Screen of Death appears.
  • Your system crashes repeatedly.
  • Your mouse suddenly has a mind of its own and refuses to go where you want it to go.
  • The Internet browser takes you to pages you never intended to visit.
  • Pop-up ads start proliferating on your screen.
  • You can’t get your documents to print correctly, or to print at all.

The impact of a computer virus on a healthcare practice and HIPAA compliance

If and when a practice’s computers become infected, the results can be disastrous. Protected Health Information (ePHI) may be stolen, destroyed or altered. And the practice’s earlier efforts to comply with the Security Rule — HIPAA’s mandate to safeguard patient data — could be seriously undermined.

What about prevention?

In an upcoming blog I’ll talk about steps you can take to ward off viruses that are out there now, as well those that have yet to be unleashed.