United States: Shocking news has come to light where, at a children’s hospital in Chicago, officials were forced to put the networks offline due to an unspecified cyberattack. Due to this, all the medical records were made offline, which also led to a disruption in communication by phone and email since mid-last week.
As per the reports by ABC News, the cyberattack at Lurie Children’s Hospital had all the characteristics of a ransomware attack. However, the officials at the hospital have yet to confirm it.
On Wednesday, the hospital first described the issue as a network outage. However, on Thursday, the statement released suggested that the hospital had taken the networks offline, which was a response to a “cybersecurity matter.”
The statement from the hospital responded, “We are taking this very seriously, investigating with the support of leading experts, and are working in collaboration with law enforcement agencies,” on Thursday.
Further, it stated, “As Illinois’ leading provider for pediatric care, our overarching priority is to continue providing safe, quality care to our patients and the communities we serve. Lurie Children’s is open and providing care to patients with as limited disruption as possible,” as per ABC reports.
According to an ABC News report, such extortion-style attacks are more popular among those looking for financial profits by attacking and locking data, records, or other exclusive or critical information, and after that, demanding money to release it back to the owner.
The Department of Health and Human Services, 2023 report warned against the shocking jump in the digital attacks on healthcare and public health services entities, which caused a delay and disruption in the care for patients in the United States.
As per the data, not just the health providers but state courts, county or state governments, and even schools have also struggled to recover from cyber-based attacks.
What struggle are patients going through after the incident?
A parent whose daughter receives regular medicine infusion at the hospital said, “I would say they’re doing an amazing job in a stressful situation,” and added further, “They did everything they could do to keep us on schedule and make us feel comfortable,” reported by ABC News.
Another regular visitor to the hospital thinks that the hospital has failed to inform families of patients whose surgeries were delayed. He mentioned the instance of his nearly 7-month-old daughter, who was supposed to have heart surgery on Wednesday morning, a procedure that had been planned for since her birth.
He stated, “We just have no idea when it is going to be rescheduled if we’d need to switch hospitals. And we really don’t want to do that.”
According to the latest annual report of Lurie Children’s, last year, the staff of the hospital treated about 260,000 patients. Chicago-area pediatrician practices that work with the hospital also have reported being unable to access digital medical records because of the attack, reported ABC News.
On Friday, the hospital also announced a separate call center for patients to get prescriptions refilled or ask non-urgent queries about care or appointments.