Computer Compatibility And Warranty Information

Computer compatibility is at the forefront of what you should be looking for in terms of how to get your computer working properly and how to purchase the right computers.

It is important to be sure that the applications software (software that does such specific tasks as record sorting, ledger posting, printing of reimbursement forms) be compatible with the computer’s operating system software (software that handles the computer’s internal chores). * Acceptance. The hospital needs some standards to determine when the computer has been “accepted” in the legal sense. When the hospital has accepted the computer, it generally cannot return it, and the hospital’s rights against the computer vendors are diminished. Acceptance can take place as early as the day the hardware arrives at the hospital loading dock in crates or as late as the end of some time period (for example, 30 days) after the computer is fully operational according to pre-agreed specifications and to the reasonable satisfaction of the hospital. * Payment terms. The payment terms do more than affect the hospital’s cash flow; they give the hospital bargaining leverage with the computer vendors. Computer vendors are likely to be more anxious to solve any problems that have appeared if the hospital is still holding a substantial final payment. * Warranties. Most vendors’ standard agreements contain a section captioned “Warranties.” This section generally is more an attempt to limit warranties than to give them. For example, the vendor usually disclaims any warranty of merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. Technically, the vendor is saying that it is disclaiming any warranty (1) that the computer is of a quality that would generally be acceptable between computer sellers, and (2) that the computer is fit for the purpose the vendor knows the hospital intends for it. The section then often provides a very limited warranty, often just a warranty that the equipment contains no defects. This means that the hospital has no warranty rights if the computer doesn’t do the job for which the hospital intended it; the hospital will have warranty rights only if the computer is actually defective in the sense that it doesn’t work the way the vendor intends it to work. * Limitation of liability. Vendors’ contract forms usually contain a provision limiting their liability if the computer doesn’t work. A typical provision limits the vendor’s liability to a requirement that it fix the computer if it malfunctions in the first 90 days. This limitation means that if the computer is a “lemon” or does not perform as required, the hospital may be stuck with it (along with a live-in repair person).

Gordon, Richard M., and J. Lynne Thomas. “Avoiding computer error: How to sidestep legal traps lying in the path to a new computer.” Hospitals, Journal of American Hospital Association 16 Jan. 1984: 98+.


It’s easier nowadays, but ensure that your employees are purchasing software made for either Macs or PCs, whichever you might own.