"To err is human but to really foul things up requires a computer."

— The Old Farmer's Almanac for 1978

It is a single second, the most expensive instant in history, and possibly a deadly one. It will fall when the clock strikes midnight, Jan. 1, 2000.

Most physicians know about the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem — the programming shortcut that reduces the year to two digits in time-related functions. It lurks inside the software and microchips that run everything from answering machines to diagnostic equipment.

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