Cybersecurity event at Ascension health system disrupts clinical operations – WUSF

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Ascension, a nonprofit national health care system with several hospitals in North Florida, says it is investigating a cybersecurity event had disrupted clinical operations.

As of Thursday night, it was unknown if any patient data was affected.

However, Ascension’s electronic health records system was unavailable, including its MyChart patient website used to view medical records and contact doctors, a spokesperson said in a news release.

In addition, some phone capabilities were down, along with “various systems utilized to order certain tests, procedures and medications.” Some “nonemergent” tests, appointments and procedures have been postponed and several hospitals were diverting ambulances to other emergency room facilities.

“Our care teams are trained for these kinds of disruptions and have initiated procedures to ensure patient care delivery continues to be safe and as minimally impacted as possible,” the spokesperson said.

The St. Louis-based Ascension said it detected “unusual activity” on some network systems Wednesday and federal authorities were immediately notified, the spokesperson said. Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm, was brought in to assist with the investigation and remediation process.

“We are working around the clock with internal and external advisors to investigate, contain and restore our systems following a thorough validation and screening process. Our investigation and restoration work will take time to complete, and we do not have a timeline for completion.”

Ascension said it is working to uncover what data was affected.

“Should we determine that any sensitive information was affected, we will notify and support those individuals in accordance with all relevant regulatory and legal guidelines,” the spokesperson said.

The organization is also asking business partners to disconnect from Ascension technology systems until the issue is resolved.

The nonprofit Ascension, the nation’s largest chain of Catholic hospitals, has 140 hospitals in 19 states, including eight in North Florida. The network also operates 40 senior living facilities and multiple health care clinics across the country.

Information from KUT in Texas, Wisconsin Public Radio and WJCT in Jacksonville was used in this report.

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