Y2K: Senate Panel To Examine Effects On Health Care
Efforts in the medical community to curtail possible Year 2000 disruptions of treatment will be the focus of a Capitol Hill hearing today. Despite the efforts of a Senate special committee on Y2K issues, no major government or industry study of the problem's effects will guide senators in their investigation. "I would think calling for that kind of (study) is something we should look at," said Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), who co-chairs the Y2K panel. The computer programming snafu could mean lost medical records, crashed kidney dialysis machines, failed back-up generators and malfunctioning IV feeders, USA Today reports. Today's congressional hearing will focus on the medical industry's efforts to combat the problem -- efforts lawmakers say may not be enough. "If there isn't more action, I'm afraid this Y2K problem could have this nation's health care system on a respirator come January 2000. And that's not hyperbole, it's deadly serious," said Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who chairs the committee with Bennett.
Adding Up The Unknowns
Bennett said "the large health care providers will be all right," but that it remains uncertain whether smaller providers -- especially those in inner cities and rural areas -- will be able to survive the Y2K glitch. Senate staff have found that 80% of the nation's hospitals are looking into their Y2K compliance, but only 30% have formal plans for dealing with the problem (Zuckerman, USA Today, 7/23). A British government study last year predicted 600 to 1,500 people in the United Kingdom will die because of Y2K-related problems -- an estimate researchers call "very conservative" (Zuckerman, USA Today, 7/23).