Children's hospital takes IT systems offline after 'cybersecurity matter'

Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago said Feb. 1 it took its IT systems offline to deal with a "cybersecurity matter."

"We are taking this very seriously, are investigating with the support of leading experts, and are working in collaboration with law enforcement agencies," the hospital told Becker's in a statement. "Lurie Children's is open and providing care to patients with as few disruptions as possible."

The organization set up a call center Feb. 2 — 800-KIDS-DOC — for nonurgent patient care questions, appointment information, and prescription refill requests.

The hospital did not disclose the cause of the incident, but this type of situation typically indicates ransomware or another type of cyberattack. If so, it would mark a rare instance of hackers targeting a children's hospital; last year, a cybercriminal group reportedly apologized for attacking a pediatric facility in Toronto.

Lurie Children's phone, internet and MyChart patient portal went down Jan. 31. Hospital staff posted on social media about using paper charts, a typical "downtime" procedure, while patients' family members expressed confusion about whether to come in for scheduled appointments and procedures.

"We are very grateful to our workforce and care providers who are committed to preserving our charitable mission during this time," the hospital's statement said. "We recognize the concern and inconvenience the system's outage may cause our patient-families and community providers, and are working diligently to resolve this matter as quickly and effectively as possible."

Lurie Children's said the incident affects its main hospital in Chicago as well as outpatient centers and primary care offices.

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