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1998-01-24 05:33:31


Y2K Will Kill Patients in Third World Hospitals



A warning from the Romanian Association of Nursing: Third World hospitals are dependent on equipment with noncompliant chips.

This appeared in THE GUARDIAN (Jan. 22).

* * * * * * * *

Patients in hospitals and clinics across Eastern Europe and the developing world will be injured or killed when their outdated medical technology malfunctions in 2000, according to a report commissioned by the Romanian Association of Nursing. . . .

The Department for International Development, the Government's distributor of aid worldwide, confirmed last week that it did not hold any central records of medical assistance to needy areas. `We do not supply such devices directly. We fund a variety of non-governmental organisations,' a spokeswoman said.

Colin Beacock, regional officer at the Royal College of Nursing, was a member of one of the first impromptu medical assistance teams to arrive in Romania in early 1990, just three months after the revolution. `We were taking out computers to help medical professionals set up databases. Previously, all their information was recorded in long hand on enormous ledgers,' he says.

According to Beacock, almost all the equipment taken out was already outdated, having been discarded by schools or individuals, and will be particularly vulnerable to year 2000 problems. . . .

There is unlikely to be any comeback to suppliers for problems experienced, as much of the equipment was out-of-date stock donated by companies on the understanding that they had no responsibility for their use. . . .


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