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Robocalls Preventing Emergency Calls From Reaching Hospitals

It’s hard to call up a hospital when a robot is trying to sell them bogus insurance.

Robocalls have long been a rather unavoidable nuisance, not just to the public but also to government authorities who have been trying to stop them for years now. However, they now pose a new major problem: robocalls in the US are causing a major health crisis, as they can prevent real emergency calls from getting received by hospitals from all over the country.

This is a problem that one hospital, among hundreds of others, is currently experiencing. Tufts Medical Center in Boston says that in one day, almost 4,500 calls were registered in a period of 2 hours. The calls were all the same, consisting of a Mandarin-speaking voice asking for personal information. If not given, the voice threatened deportation to the receiver of the call.

These calls, like other robocalls, could have blocked out any other legitimate call to the receiving phone. In the case of hospitals, however, it could have prevented real emergency calls from coming in.

“[Hospital administrators] can’t not pick them up,” Steven Cardinal, a top security official at the Medical University of South Carolina, said. “They don’t have any indicator it’s a spoof until they answer it.”

“These calls to health-care institutions and patients are extremely dangerous to the public health and patient privacy,” Democratic chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. said. “The FCC and Justice Department need to go after these criminals with the seriousness and urgency this issue deserves.”