Cybersecurity Event Affecting Ascension Health Operations, Prescriptions

May 17, 2024

The latest ransomware attack on a major healthcare system has forced Ascension Health’s computer systems offline, including patient portals. In a statement posted on its website, the organization states that all Illinois hospitals, physician offices and care sites remain open and operational across the state. Ascension is one of the largest healthcare systems in Illinois with 15 hospitals and 230 care sites.

However, the cybersecurity incident has resulted in its affiliated physicians and other prescribers from being unable to submit prescriptions electronically. As you are aware, as of Jan. 1, 2024, all healthcare professionals who write prescriptions for controlled substances must provide them electronically – unless eligible for a waiver and/or exemption, such as this temporary technological failure caused by the cyberattack.

Pharmacies have been advised that they may be seeing an increase in paper prescriptions because of the system failure, and that they are allowed to fill properly issued paper prescriptions for controlled substances.

Under a system outage, if you or a patient has trouble fulfilling a paper prescription, show this alert to the pharmacist, which was issued by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation as a reminder that paper prescriptions should be filled.

ISMS suggests clearly documenting in the patient’s medical record the specific reason you are unable to submit an electronic prescription.

If you have questions, please contact ISMS Senior Vice President of State Legislative Affairs Erin O'Brien by email.

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