.. at, and (5) electronic formats not Y2K compliant should cease beginning April 1, 1999. If the laws enacted by the U.S.

Congress and the president , and the recommendations made by the WSUBC are followed, the Y2K problem will likely have little or no affect on the clerical areas of hospitals. In addition to the patient care and clerical concerns facing hospitals with respect to the Y2K problem, there is one other pressing concern for hospitals.Utilities are essential to the everyday life most people are accustomed to. If the electricity goes out at home, most people just burn candles and wait, without much worry, for the lights to come back on.

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However, losing utility service in a hospital could be much more than an inconvenience. Imagine having to go to the hospital on December 31, 1999. It could be more of a problem than you think. All hospitals rely on electricity, gas, and water for their everyday operations.A spokesperson for Major Hospital states that all methods have been exhausted to comply with state and federal guidelines and suggestions regarding the Y2K problem. The suggestions include, but are not limited to, obtaining a copy of the Approach to the Y2K Problem, distributed by the federal government. This approach suggests a plan of attack and an inventory of all systems that might be affected. A team should be formed with a leader to assess the problems.

This team should assess and prioritize possible problems. At that point, the team must prepare a list of all assessments made.This leads the team to the testing phase of the operation.

After testing, corrections should be made, and a reassessment needs to be done. Utilities are just a small portion of the testing that will be done. Utility companies are spending more than $2 billion to test and prepare their computers and replace software in order to successfully meet the Y2K challenge. At this time, there is no evidence that the Y2K problem will create power failures within the nationwide electrical power-service grid. Electric companies plan to have a dress rehearsal in September, 1999, to gauge how utilities will react to a simulation of the Y2K scenario.

The inability of some equipment and computers with date-sensitive components to distinguish the correct year after the year 2000 has now become a widely recognized and accepted problem.The utility company Cinergy began an active response to this dilemma in 1996 with a review of several million lines of computer software application code in a campaign to locate and correct date-sensitive fields. Most of that code has since been examined, corrected, tested, and returned to operation. All such remaining systems are on schedule for completion by March, 1999. Cinergy, like most owners of information systems, will be required to modify significant portions of its systems to accommodate new local, state, and federal requirements brought about by the Y2K problem.

During 1997, Cinergy incurred costs of approximately $8 million.Maintenance or modification costs will be absorbed as they occur, while the costs of new software will be capitalized and amortized over the softwares useful life. For example, at Hawaiian Electric Company (HECo), the Y2K project team identified significant problems with its energy management system (EMS). EMS is the brain of the power distribution system at all electric companies.

This system is used to remotely control transmission system breakers, coordinate power generation schedules, compensate for large transmission line breaks, and provide protection against voltage, and current and frequency transients. HECo and their EMS system vendor determined that EMS would crash on the rollover to January 1, 2000. This would have, in turn, resulted in HECos transmission network crashing, and by default, a major power outage and loss of all generating capacity.Besides medical devices, embedded chips are hard wired into other pieces of equipment that may be critical to patient services or hospital operations. This equipment is often the responsibility of the vendor, not the hospital. These systems include 1) fire alarm systems, including detection, sending/ receiving, and suppression units, 2) security systems, including sending/receiving units, video and surveillance systems, and badge readers, 3) telecommunications equipment, including telephone switching equipment, emergency call management systems, pagers, and cellular phones, 4) building infrastructure, including HVAC, energy management and lighting controls, emergency generators and lighting, uninterruptible power supplies, and elevators. Major Hospital is among a number of the worlds health care providers that will participate in every effort to minimize any and all malfunctions related to the Y2K problem.

Gas companies are contacting their suppliers and service providers to determine the status of their year 2000 compliance projects and will be developing contingency plans if their efforts do not meet certain goals.An inventory of computer systems, embedded systems, and resources has been developed and prioritized according to the importance to the continuing operation of the companies. It is anticipated by gas companies that this testing, and any required modifications to systems, will be completed by July, 1999. Major Hospital uses gas for heating and lab equipment.

However, Major Hospital is unlikely to be affected by a gas outage because gasoline-powered electric generators will take over in the event of an outage and run most systems. Wastewater and sewage treatment facilities are highly automated and contain year 2000-vulnerable embedded chips. Also, emissions monitoring and control systems depend on year 2000-vulnerable embedded controls. Malfunctions due to Y2K problems could lead to accidental pollutant-filled releases and emissions that could endanger local residents.

In August, 1998, a malfunctioning computer in Boulder, Colorado was blamed for water main breaks that cut service to over 40 homes, flooded basements and garages, and turned city streets into raging rivers. A computer controlling water pressure gave inaccurate readings, prompting a city worker to open the mains. Some residents and businesses were left without water for over a week.

Major Hospital staff have prepared for a water shortage. They have stocked up on bottled water, just as every other hospital has done.However, bottled water will only last so long. In the event of a prolonged water shortage, such as the one in Boulder, Major Hospital personnel will be faced with personal hygiene and medicine issues.

Patients must be bathed on a daily basis and washed off completely. It is difficult to comprehend a hospital as an unsanitary environment; where doctors must scrub repeatedly to reduce the risk of infection and patients must be kept free of germs. Medicines are sometimes mixed with water to form their completed structure. This crux could alarm the many patients who depend on these medicines.The sewage treatment plant in Shelbyille, Indiana that services Major Hospital states that the plant is already Y2K compliant.

The faculty and staff at Major Hospital is extremely confident that when the new millennium arrives, it will not be accompanied by any significant problems or catastrophes with regard to malfunctioning utilities. If any problems do surface, Major Hospital has assured its community and its patients that the problems will be minor in scope and will be quickly and efficiently dealt with. As has been discussed in this report, the Y2K problem is a vast and complex issue that must be dealt with by hospitals. Virtually every facet of hospital care is affected by the Y2K problem. Patient care, clerical software, and utilities are three major aspects of the hospital organization that, if left unchecked for Y2K compliance, could cause confusion, sickness, and even death among hospital patients.Worst case scenarios involve malfunctioning pacemakers, improper medication being dispensed, and unusable defibrillators in emergency situations.

The Major Hospital staff, like most other hospital staffs, continues to work diligently to ensure that whatever malfunctions occur are minor. It is difficult to predict the scope of the Y2K problem and the possible severity of related malfunctions when the most knowledgeable computer experts disagree on the severity of the problem. According to Alastair Stewart, a senior Year 2000 advisor with information technologies market watcher Giga Information Group, the Y2K computer date bug will not cause an embedded systems Armageddon as some have feared. It may rain, but the sky wont fall.

Giga recently called for a common-sense approach to the Y2K threat.Some projected scenarios have Y2K failures toppling civilization. For example, in one sequence of falling dominoes, embedded track switching controls will cause railroads to fail to deliver coal to power generation plants. As a result, electric utilities–which have Y2K problems of their own–will shut down. As the power grid goes dead, telephones will stop working. Without communications the interlinked banks and international finance structures begin to fall and, ultimately, so does civilization. Can you hear the four horsemen galloping off in the distance? remarked Stewart.

Its easy to scare people with talk about The Great God Teowawki. Teowawki stands for the end of the world as we know it, Stewart explained. Just as some downplay potential Y2K problems, others offer substantial evidence that the Y2K problem is for real. Mike Wedland, a noted software expert and author of numerous computer software guides, produces the following examples for consideration: U.S. Social Security computer programmers have identified 30 million lines of code that need to be changed to reflect the correct date after the year 2000.

Some 400 programmers have been working on this problem since 1991.As of June, 1997 they had corrected only 5 million lines. The Internal Revenue Service has identified 100 million lines of code that need to be changed in their computers to fix Y2K problems. They have only found about 300 programmers and they are just now getting started.

An estimated 65 percent of the businesses in the U.S that need to correct the problem have done nothing so far. Regardless of whether the Y2K problem is all hype or a catastrophe waiting to happen, hospitals must prepare for the worst.

While businesses deal in profits and stocks, hospitals deal in human beings. When peoples health and lives are at stake it is best to be aggressively cautious.It appears that most U.S. hospitals have a firm understanding of the consequences of not being Y2K compliant, and are dealing with the issue accordingly. Technology Essays.