Make backup copies, then check and recheck

More suggestions for the millennium

You can’t be too prepared for problems that may occur when Y2K rolls around, experts say.

Here are their suggestions of items to add to your contingency plan:

• Prepare now for a rash of telephone calls from potential patients and their families, and former patients who are concerned about what will happen in the year 2000.

• Make paper copies ahead of time of the files of your patients, particularly critical care patients who are anticipated to be in the hospital on Dec. 31, in case you can’t retrieve the electronic files.

• If you use a mainframe computer for anything in your hospital, make extra copies of those files in PC-readable form in case something happens to the mainframe computer.

• On Jan. 1, 2000, be prepared to check all of your equipment to make sure it is operating correctly, advises Gayle Finch, director of the office of information technology analysis and investment for the Department of Health and Human Services.

The National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC, has already put its internal engineering staff and contractors on notice that on Jan. 1, 2000, they will be doing checks to make sure that all of the equipment is operating.

"We need to determine if the assurances we have received from manufacturers or the fixes the manufacturers have made are all valid," says Michael Rosen, PhD, director of rehabilitation engineering services.