The Y2K bug could affect these items

Here is a list of some of the kinds of equipment typically used by rehab providers that may use embedded microprocessors with date-sensitive logic:

Ventilators. Many of these are run by microprocessors. If you have ventilator-dependent patients, you must make sure this equipment is thoroughly checked.

Critical care equipment. Some rehab hospitals are taking patients who have not been weaned from critical care equipment. These systems, including monitoring equipment at nurses’ stations, are subject to Year 2000 failure.

Infusion pumps and intravenous drips. Some models that require regular maintenance to keep working may shut off in the year 2000, even if they have just been serviced. Others may deliver inaccurate medication doses.

Heart monitors. If your facility has an inpatient cardiac rehab unit and patients are on monitors, check out that equipment.

Diagnostic equipment such as X-ray and diagnostic imaging equipment.

Dialysis equipment.

Laboratory equipment.

Monitoring equipment such as telemetry and electrocardiograph monitors.

Evaluation equipment that uses software or interfaces with a computer.

Other hospital systems, not directly involved with patient care, but that are critical to your operations include:

• pharmacy dispensing equipment;

• elevators;

• heating and cooling systems;

• health club equipment;

• communication systems such as telephones and pagers;

• fire alarm systems;

• time-controlled lighting systems;

• electronic door locks;

• uninterruptable power sources.

Sources: The President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion, Washington, DC; The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Oakbrook Terrace, IL; Rx2000 Solutions Institute, Minneapolis.


Steps for making equipment Y2K-compliant

To prepare for potential problems with your equipment being year 2000-compliant, consider the following advice:

• Check your serial numbers against the Food and Drug Administration database (www. fda.gov/cdrh/yr2000/y2Kintro.html) to find out if your equipment is compliant or needs a maintenance upgrade between now and the year 2000, suggests Jaren Doherty, Y2K program manager at the National Institutes of Health.

• Check your equipment by serial number and not model number. Equipment manufacturers buy microchips from a variety of sources. That means that identical equipment could have different microchips.

• If your equipment isn’t date-sensitive, check it anyway. Some manufacturers use recycled chips, which means your equipment could have a dormant date chip that may malfunction anyway.

• Be prepared to replace some of your equipment if the manufacturer declares it’s obsolete and will no longer support it.

• Remember that the closer it gets to December, the more difficult it is going to be to get new equipment because manufacturers are going to be backlogged with orders.

• Don’t test your biomedical equipment on your own before checking with your legal department to make sure that you are not taking on the manufacturer’s liability in case a piece of equipment fails, warns Gayle Finch, director of the office of information technology analysis and investment for the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Typically, manufacturers’ testing protocols are considered to be proprietary information. Most of them are still covered by a nondisclosure agreement, and even if you want to test, you may not be able to," Finch says.

• Make sure that any new equipment your purchase includes a written guarantee that it is year 2000-compliant, Finch adds.