Y2K Preparedness

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Y2K Preparedness This year, most of the world is preparing to celebrate the year 2000 and the coming of a new millennium. However, many businesses, manufacturers, banks and hospitals are quietly hoping for an uneventful new year’s transition. At midnight on December 31, many businesses will be anticipating what effects the millennium rollover will have on computer software and other equipment that contain a time sensitive chip called an embedded chip. Early computer programmers, in an effort to conserve limited memory space, programmed computers to read the year in only two digits. So computers read 15 as 1915, and 02 as 1902, and so on. Thus, when the year 2000 arrives, many computer programs might go from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 1900. Some computers will cease to function, or “crash”. Needless to say, if these programs control functions such as electricity, airline travel, or communications, the results could be disastrous. Many companies and governments have spent countless hours and untold dollars making software Y2K (year 2 thousand) compatible. The consequences of not preparing for the Y2K problem could spell disaster for the company involved. For example, a small Midwestern manufacturer encountered a similar date-related problem in 1996 (a leap year) when the company did not realize that their entire computer network would be affected by the extra day in the year. When the year 1997 turned over, all systems shut down. This malfunction caused the liquid solutions being produced to freeze, causing them to destroy the pipelines they ran through. This disaster cost the company over $1 million in new equipment. The catastrophe caused massive delivery delays to their customers, and the... ... middle of paper ... ...rking 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.

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