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Ransomware attack forces hospitals in multiple states to divert some emergency room patients

Hospitals in multiple states have been diverting patients from their emergency rooms due to a recent cyberattack on a major health system.

Ardent Health Services, a company that owns hospitals in six states, said Monday that it had been victimized by a cyber event on Thanksgiving that turned out to be a ransomware attack.

“As a result, Ardent proactively took its network offline, suspending all user access to its information technology applications, including corporate servers, Epic software, internet and clinical programs,” Ardent said in a Monday statement.

Ardent in the statement said that out of “an abundance of caution,” its hospitals were rescheduling “some non-emergent, elective procedures and diverting some emergency room patients to other area hospitals until systems are back online.”

According to NBC News, Ardent said the attack occurred in states including Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. 

NBC reported that spokespeople at three Ardent-owned hospital chains told their reporters that some emergency rooms were being diverted as Ardent dealt with the cyberattack.

Ardent in its statement said its patient care, however, continues to be delivered “safely and effectively.”

“In the interim, while this incident results in temporary disruption to certain aspects of Ardent’s clinical and financial operations, patient care continues to be delivered safely and effectively in its hospitals, emergency rooms, and clinics,” Ardent said in its Monday statement.

Ardent said it “cannot confirm the extent of any patient health or financial data that has been compromised.”

“The investigation and restoration of access to electronic medical records and other clinical systems is ongoing,” the Ardent statement read. “Ardent is still determining the full impact of this event and it is too soon to know how long this will take or what data may be involved in this incident.”

In a statement emailed to The Hill, Ardent said each of its hospitals “will continue to evaluate” their “ability to safely care for critically ill patients” in their Emergency Rooms.

“Because this is rapidly changing and dependent upon a number of factors, we will continue to update our status as the situation changes,” the emailed statement read. “All hospitals continue to provide a medical screening exam and stabilizing care to any patients arriving at our Emergency Departments.”

Updated 2:37 p.m.