This warning indicates just how vulnerable hospitals are. The conversion task is huge.
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Moreover, because of the unprecedented scope of the millennium problem, long lead times are required to assess, correct and test automated systems. Meriter Hospital, a 515-bed facility in Madison, Wisconsin, reports that it has taken two years to bring its systems into compliance. The University of Maryland Medical System must evaluate 29 mission-critical clinical software applications, over 15,000 medical devices from approximately 2,000 vendors, more than 2,000 suppliers of goods and services and 5,000 personal computers, and the entire hospital infrastructure, including elevators, security, chillers, and HVAC.
Because of the number, complexity and interdependence of these internal and external hardware and software products and services, testing and debugging alone will often require one full year and comprise up to one-half of total Year 2000 conversion costs. . . .
It should come as no surprise that lawsuits will follow Year 2000 failures. Hospitals and their key decision-makers may face malpractice claims, personal injury and wrongful death suits, actions against directors and officers, enforcement of licensing, accreditation and other regulations, and, for publicly-held corporations, shareholders suits. Directors and officers must be particularly careful to avoid personal liability for failing to exercise due diligence and reasonable business judgment in connection with foreseeable Year 2000 problems. In addition, if Y2K expenditures or problems may be considered "material" to the business of the hospital or health care system, disclosures may have to be made to accountants, auditors, shareholders, business partners, and regulators to fulfill fiduciary or other legal obligations in certain kinds of transactions.