Author:  Jack [ Thu Oct 15, 2009 7:31 pm ]
Blog Subject:  The fragile web

Clearly, the web of supply, demand, and interconnected services is beyond the scope of a single post - or, for that matter, a single thick volume. And yet, sometimes one can glimpse the greater problem by considering a much smaller issue. Let us consider one such example.

On the NBC evening news tonight, the status of the nation's hospitals with regard to H1N1 was discussed. According to the piece, hospitals run a lean operation, with much of the equipment used by intensive care units at 95% of capacity. The discussion pointed out that this could be problematic if large numbers of people contracted H1N1 and needed care.

This tells us something else. Should there be any interruption of the normal flow of goods, the hospitals could face rapid degradation of their ability. If a piece of equipment fails, there are few (or no) reserves to stand in its place. A lean operation also suggests a dearth of spare parts. Thus, any crisis which causes health problems may overwhelm the health care system, thus exacerbating the other problems. Parenthetically, almost any crisis will include health issues.

Add in the financial aspects of societal disruption, which must surely affect the health care system, and we may discern a possible channel for some part of a future dieoff. The elderly, the weak, and the very young will not get the care that maintains their lives presently. Those who are injured may face similar effects.

If our society cannot handle an outbreak of flu today, what capability will remain in a post-peak world?


Author:  wisconsin_cur [ Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:18 am ]

amen. the health care system is a very fragile web of JIT and minimal staffing and training.

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