WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Ascension, a major health care network in the US, said a suspected cybersecurity issue disrupted its “clinical operations” on Wednesday.

The nonprofit said it detected “unusual activity” on select technology systems and encouraged its business partners to temporarily suspend their connection to the Ascension environment.

“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,” a statement from Ascension reads.

Ascension said it has notified authorities and contacted Madiant, a third-party expert, to assist in the investigation and remediation process. It also said it would continue to monitor “the impact and duration of the disruption.”

“Together, we are working to fully investigate what information, if any, may have been affected by the situation,” said Ascension in a statement. “Should we determine that any sensitive information is affected, we will notify and support those individuals in accordance with all relevant regulatory and legal guidelines.”

Ascension’s network includes 35,000 affiliated providers and 140 hospitals in 19 states.

Lisa Watson, a nurse at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph in Wichita, Kansas, said the hospital shut down its operating rooms on Wednesday due to the cybersecurity issue. She also told Nexstar’s KSNW that the hospital system uses to scan medications before giving them to patients who were down, along with their electronic charts.

“We are paper-charting all medications, and all lab orders are being hand-written and sent by pneumatic tube systems to the units they’re supposed to go to,” said Watson.

It’s unclear when operations at the hospital and others within the health system will return to normal. Ascension said it will inform its business partners when it is safe to reconnect.

In a separate incident, UnitedHealth said in February that a ransomware group had gained access to some of the systems of its Change Healthcare business, which provides technology used to submit and process insurance claims. The attack disrupted payment and claims processing around the country, stressing doctor’s offices and health care systems.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cybersecurity issue disrupts operations at Ascension health care network – WKRG News 5
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