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Monday, January 11, 2010

Some Days The Bear Eats You!

See, that's why you've got to laugh about these things.

The Chief had a bad night, developed a headache around 4 AM, and then reported numbness on the left side of his face. While I was brooding about this issue early in the morning (serious? or not?), I received a doleful call from SuperDoc's office that their computers were having major problems. Mind you, SuperDoc often hits the office around 7 AM.

I loaded the Chief and my laptop in the car and went to SuperDoc's office. He had given up and gone home in disgust. I checked around enough to realize that they were having really bizarre problems, and then spoke to SuperDoc on the phone about his computers and the Chief. SuperDoc told me to take the Chief to the emergency room. I pointed out that I would not be able to do anything with his computers if I did, and SuperDoc replied very sadly that you have to do what you have to do. So I figured SuperDoc must be truly concerned.

Thus I took the Chief to the emergency room at the hospital he sent me to, which is about 50 minutes from SuperDoc's office.

So the Chief is still in the emergency room (they are going to admit him when they find a bed). But he is doing fine. At the hospital they said they think he had a mini-stroke or TIA. I stayed for hours until most the tests came back and everything looked decent.

Leaving the Chief at the hospital in the early afternoon, I drove 50 minutes back to SuperDoc's. I THINK I fixed the problem. The computers were working when I left. I THINK they had a power brownout that knocked off a subrouter. When I reset that router that's when everything popped back in. But they were having intermittent problems so I don't KNOW they won't be having the same problems tomorrow. Intermittents are pure hell.

SuperDoc returned late in the afternoon and discovered me working on his computers. So we ended the day with everyone else sent home, I was crawling around on the floor and digging in the closets, and the SuperDoc was wandering like a medical apparition around the office. I would be muttering about something on the server, and the SuperDoc would drift through the room muttering something medical. It was a very surreal scene, but the upshot is that SuperDoc has dark suspicions that the Chief might have a blocked renal artery which is causing this and that but he may also need a brain MRI, and I have dark suspicions about the line voltage coming into SuperDoc's building.

Let us hope we have reached accurate conclusions in our separate fields of expertise, but I am sure that the duties here were allocated correctly. I banged on the computers with a rock while SuperDoc was applying his mind to the Chief's odd condition. Not that I realized what he was doing while he was doing it - he just seemed to be wandering around in a daze babbling medical terminology.

So then I drove back home to attend to the Chief's dog, who is having a very, very bad day.

I stopped at a local gas station to refuel, and heard their disgusted story. They had a power outage which knocked out two of their pumps. Thus the line was very long. This supported my theory that there were voltage problems on the SuperDoc's power line today, because the station is not very far from SuperDoc's and the power company told them it was a grid problem, not a local problem

The station guys also pointed out that I had no gas cap. I pointed out that I always get gas right there. I still have no gas cap. This matter remains to be resolved.

I have administered food and belly-rubs to the Chief's worried canine, and I am going to take her for a decent walk and then head back to the hospital with the Chief's evening meds and some reading material. Possibly even some clean underwear if I feel like Clara Barton. I have called and left a message at the ER for the Chief to let him know that I was not abandoning him. I hope they fed him, or they will soon be dealing with a bad situation.

So that's MY story. It seems like lately I work very, very hard and slide backwards each day.

Comments:
"voltage problems on the SuperDoc's power line today"

I wonder how much thought is being given to Electronic Medical Records accessibility in the event of power outages, hardware problems, and most especially, software problems. I suspect not enough.
 
Yeah. The problem with putting everything on the computer is that when the computer doesn't work, neither do you. That's tolerable in some fields and fail-deadly in others.
 
Did you say "a grid problem"? Is this normal in your area?

Maybe I'm just hyper-sensitive today, but I'd swear the background music got ominous when I read that. I think maybe I'm the John Cusack character in a disaster film...
 
Good luck with The Chief. We're pulling for him. And for you.

For Superdoc;

http://www.richardgrayspowercompany.com/products.aspx
 
Best wishes for a return to normalcy,to the chief, and to SuperDoc's beleaguered computer systems.
Sometimes all one can do, I guess, is hang in there.
 
Off topic but Alcoa conference call regarding employment is worth a look":
" To boost savings, Alcoa chief financial officer Chuck McLane said the company identified 24,600 cuts to make in its workforce to save an annualized $600 million. In 2009, the company shed 21,500 positions to save $325 million in cash.

Alcoa's headcount is down to 59,000, and the company plans to make the remainder of the cuts by the end of the first quarter of 2010. About 75% of the eliminations are permanent reductions, McLane said during a conference call."
 
Dear MOM,

I've been through these kind of things. Sometimes you get the bear. No advice. I'll just pray a bit for you and the Chief.

Ah, intermittents. Back in the day of steam powered computers I was in the fix-em-up end of the business. We tried to get the customer out of the room. They didn't react well when you pulled out a hammer and pounded on the card cages of their million dollar computers.

Love,

Roy
 
On power: some years ago I worked for a fellow who had a client whose old computers tended to lose power supplies overnight. It wasn't until after I ended that employment that I realized that the building (in NYC) started its main elevator bank around 07:00 every weekday. If they spun the motor-generator sets up all at once, the result in that old building would be a deep power dip, which would make a switching supply heat up as it tried to draw enough power at the reduced voltage, and greatly shorten the remaining life of an older unit.

If SuperDoc relies on those machines, they should be on line-reactive UPSes, preferably commercial grade units with replacable batteries. Yes, you have to replace the batteries (or the UPSes) every five years, but it's worth it to have the protection. And of course the network gear has to be on the protection as well. I've got an APC 750VA unit with an auxiliary battery pack, and I'm not even a business.
 
Good luck with the Chief.
I work P/T in a clinic which is now moving to EMRs. Several years ago I set up my own data base for the patients I see there on my office computer. The records room at the clinic was horrendously inefficient and rather than have patients wait hours for their chart to arrive (from several blocks away) I would always be able to see them using my back up personal records. With the coming of EMR we will indeed have situations arise in which all records are unavailable rather than just one at a time. I plan on maintaining my back up files; unfortunately I am the only MD in the clinic who does this and I doubt it will become SOP. Most MDs are barely tech savvy and don't want to invest the time and energy to do the back ups. It should be fun, if by "fun" you mean disastrous.
 
Even when considerable thought is given to reliability/availability, bad things can happen. At one of the FAA regional centers, there were two separate power bus systems to feed the radar & communications equipment. Somehow, preventative maintenance got scheduled on both bus systems at the same time...

I wonder if any of the EMR people are looking at the experience withe
 
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