Home » Cyberattack Forces Major U.S. Health System to Divert Ambulances, Take Records Offline

Cyberattack Forces Major U.S. Health System to Divert Ambulances, Take Records Offline

by Richard A Reagan

The Ascension health system, which operates across 19 states, faced a severe cyberattack leading to significant disruptions.

The attack, which began last Wednesday, forced the diversion of ambulances and caused substantial delays in patient care as electronic systems were taken offline.

Ascension, a non-profit Catholic health system headquartered in St. Louis, detected “unusual activity” that prompted an immediate investigation.

Although officials have not confirmed the nature of the attack, evidence points to ransomware—malicious software that encrypts data and demands ransom for its release.

This suspicion is further supported by the involvement of Mandiant, a renowned cybersecurity firm and a unit of Google, which has been called in to manage the crisis.

Ascension released a statement, saying, “We have determined this is a cybersecurity incident. Our investigation and restoration work will take time to complete, and we do not have a timeline for completion.”

The implications of the attack were immediately felt across Ascension’s network of 140 hospitals.

In Wichita, Kansas, and Pensacola, Florida, emergency services had to divert ambulances to other hospitals.

Similarly, in Milwaukee, disrupted systems led to missed critical health screenings like CT scans and mammograms, showcasing the deep integration of digital systems in modern healthcare.

Connie Smith, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, highlighted the operational challenges faced by healthcare providers.

The shift to paper records not only slowed down the workflow but also posed hurdles for younger staff members unaccustomed to non-digital operations. 

The cyberattack on Ascension is part of a worrying trend in the healthcare sector, which has increasingly become a target for cybercriminals.

Experts note that ransomware attacks have surged, with attackers not only paralyzing networks but also stealing data to leverage hefty ransoms. Earlier this year, a similar incident at Change Healthcare affected its parent company, UnitedHealth Group Inc., resulting in a $22 million ransom paid in Bitcoin.

As healthcare continues to rely heavily on digital technologies, the sector’s ability to safeguard patient data and operational continuity is of paramount importance. 

Ascension works with its advisors to restore and secure its systems.

You may also like

WP Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com