Ascension confirms hack, disruption impacts health records, put some hospitals on diversion

Ascension health care confirmed a cyberattack Thursday and said it was “working around the clock,” to restore offline systems, including patient records.

The hack was discovered Wednesday. “Our investigation and restoration work will take time to complete, and we do not have a timeline for completion,” an Ascension spokesperson said in a statement.

Systems that are currently down include electronic health records, the interactive patient portal MyChart, some phone networks, and various systems to order tests, procedures and medication.

“It is expected that we will be utilizing downtime procedures for some time. Patients should bring to their appointment notes on their symptoms and a list of current medications and prescription numbers or the prescription bottles so their care team can call in medication needs to pharmacies,” the spokesperson said.

“We have implemented established protocols and procedures to address these particular system disruptions in order to continue to provide safe care to patients.”

But some elective procedures, tests and appointments have been postponed.

“Our teams are working directly with any patient whose appointment or procedure will need to be rescheduled. We understand the frustration this may cause and sincerely regret any inconvenience to our patients,” officials said.

The Ascension network has 140 hospitals across the U.S. with multiple health care centers in Chicago and the suburbs.

“Locally, we have had some IT service interruptions, but patient care services have not been impacted,” Ascension External Communications Senior Director Olga Solares said.

Nationwide, “due to downtime procedures, several hospitals are currently on diversion for emergency medical services in order to ensure emergency cases are triaged immediately,” officials said.

In February, Lurie Children’s Hospital experienced a significant cyberattack.

Ascension said it had hired cybersecurity expert, Mandiant, to find out what happened and resolve the situation.

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