Ascension hospitals are victims of cyber attacks, causing delays in patient care

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While some previous cyberattacks have targeted a single hospital or smaller medical networks, the collapse of Change, which manages a third of all U.S. medical records, underlined the dangers of consolidation when one entity becomes so essential to the system national healthcare.

Ascension systems remain down indefinitely, but doctors and nurses are working to find ways to gain access to some information about patients’ medical history by examining medical records kept by other providers. Ascension is also telling doctors and nurses that they will soon be able to see existing digital records.

“It’s a huge inconvenience for everyone involved,” said Kristine Kittelson, a nurse at Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas, who is a member of the National Nurses United union.

The Ascension attack had as widespread an impact as the Change attack, with some hospitals in Indiana, Michigan and elsewhere diverting ambulances. Ascension hospitals handle approximately three million emergency room visits per year and perform nearly 600,000 surgeries.

Like Change, Ascension was the subject of a ransomware attack, and the hospital group says it is cooperating with federal law enforcement. According to reports, the attack is the work of a group known as Black Basta, which may be linked to Russian-speaking cybercriminals.

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