Pacemaker programmers, reminder to verify date/time : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

(reposted from with permission of the author)

I have been working as a consultant in a major hospital for about the past two years. My task was to ensure that all the medical and facilities equipment were ready for the Year 2000.

I am writing this as a reminder--definitely not to raise any undue concern--about verifying date and time on your pacemaker programmers. It has been my experience at these facilities that the pacemaker vendors bring their programmers to the hospital facilities as a free service included with installing implantable devices--e.g. defibrillators and pacemakers. In general, they do an excellent job of maintaining their equipment.

It is my understanding that the date/time from the pacemaker programmers is programmed into many models of implantable devices--some devices have date/time used in them and some do not. For some implantable devices, they can record when events occur(such as when therapy is provided by the implantable device) and this information can be retrieved by the pacemaker programmer. From the clinical personnel I have talked to, this information including the date and time can be useful when providing patient care.

I also wanted to point out that many of the pacemaker programmers are PC-based. I saw for myself that one machine had rolled to 1/4/1980 during the 1/1/2000 roll-over. It was easy enough to set it to the correct date in the Year 2000. There was also another programmer that had the time off by a couple of hours. Again, most of the vendors did a nice job of notifying us of the programmers that needed to have their date/time reset or they came and reset the date/time themselves.

Another reason that I am sharing this information is that problems with the date/time may not surface until months into the future--when a patient comes back in for a check-up for example.

In general, this is perhaps a small problem since if the date/time is wrong in the programmer and/or the implantable device it will only mean less data is available to clinical staff for diagnosis. I expect that feedback on this listserver from clinical staff about the relative importance of having the correct date/time in the implantable devices would help to put this in better perspective.

Again, I wrote this to encourage diligence and in the hope, that in some small way, it may help someone to provide better patient care. I am not an expert in these areas and you should consult those folks that are--however, I felt confident in writing this that I could point some folks in the right direction and I had enough experience to be helpful.

Kevin Smith
Year 2000 Liaison

The views shared above are my views alone and not the views of my company or client...and other standard disclaimers.

If you would like to contact me personally, please email me at

-- Kevin Smith (, January 09, 2000

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