Healthcare Giant Ascension Experiences Significant Cyberattack, Hospitals Impacted

Ascension Healthcare: Protecting Patients, Restoring Systems

Healthcare Giant Ascension Experiences Significant Cyberattack, Hospitals Impacted

Significant Cyberattack, Hospitals Impacted

One of the largest healthcare systems in the United States, Ascension, is currently dealing with a significant cyberattack that is causing disruption and “downtime procedures” at hospitals across the country. The non-profit organization, based in St Louis, has reported that the hack has affected various computer systems, including electronic health records, the MyChart patient communication portal, phone systems, and systems used for ordering tests, procedures, and medications.

The hack was discovered on May 8, prompting Ascension to activate downtime procedures and temporarily suspend non-emergent elective procedures in order to prioritize urgent care. As a result, several hospitals have diverted emergency medical services to ensure that critical cases receive prompt attention. Ascension has stated that it is treating this incident as a cybersecurity incident and is working tirelessly with internal and external advisors to investigate, contain, and restore their systems. However, the company has not provided a timeline for completion, acknowledging that the investigation and restoration work will take time.

In the meantime, Ascension expects to continue utilizing downtime procedures for an extended period. To ensure that patients receive the necessary care, the company advises them to bring notes on their symptoms and a list of current medications and prescription numbers or bottles to their appointments. This will enable their care team to call in medication needs to pharmacies.

While details about the intrusion are limited, experts believe that it is likely a ransomware infection with severe offline consequences. This includes the diversion of emergency medical services and the temporary suspension of non-emergency elective procedures. Despite the disruption to clinical operations, Ascension assures the public that their care teams are trained to handle such disruptions and have implemented procedures to ensure the safe delivery of patient care with minimal impact.

Ascension has enlisted the help of Google’s Mandiant unit to assist with the investigation and remediation process. Mandiant is a renowned cybersecurity firm known for its expertise in incident response and digital forensics. By partnering with Mandiant, Ascension aims to identify the source of the cyberattack, contain the breach, and restore their systems to full functionality.

As the investigation continues, Ascension remains committed to keeping the public informed about any developments. They have posted regular updates on their website to provide transparency and reassure patients that their safety and well-being are their top priorities. The healthcare giant acknowledges the inconvenience caused by the cyberattack but emphasizes that they are doing everything possible to minimize the impact on patient care.

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