Error Proofing Against Drinking Bad Tap Water at #HIMSS13


Here in New Orleans, there was a problem with the city water today and there's a 24-hour “boil water” order in effect through tomorrow morning. We could play a good game of the 5 Whys:

  • Why can't we drink the water? It's potentially unsafe
  • Why? The water pressure dropped earlier this morning
  • Why? Because there was a power outage
  • Why? Because there was a small fire
  • Why? We don't know (publicly… yet?)

There was a similar incident that affected the water in October and there was the famous Super Bowl outage. I hope the lights stay on for my HIMSS talk Monday morning!

So, while I'm sure the city is being overly careful, I don't want to risk being sick for my talk.

I might forget to not drink the water or forget to not brush my teeth with it. So, I've placed a bottle of water in my hotel sink as a reminder to not use the tap. It's probably more effective than telling myself to not forget and it's probably more effective than posting a warning sign.


This method worked for me during a similar water problem in Boston back in 2010.

In the spirit of Kaizen (or continuous improvement), I'm happy to publish and share my idea with others!

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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