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Friday, January 11, 2013

Adventures in Plumbing 2

Yesterday, my old water filter assembly began leaking from one of its compression fittings.  I told my wife I would get to it after my call, but she apparently didn't hear me say that. When she came down to check on it, she tried to get it to stop leaking, and it started spurting water.  So I quickly turned off the water.  After I finished my call, I examined it further.

The fittings were old, and the rubber had lost its elasticity, so when it took a good knock and started leaking, there really was no getting it back together well.  Plus, the nuts had corroded to the mounting plate (who designs these things, anyway), and so no matter how much I strained, there was no loosening or re-tightening of the fitting possible.  I turned off water valves, and nudged everything back into place as best I could.  I turned back on the valves and there was a small drip.

My father could fix just about anything around the house, and he taught all of his children what to do.  But I was pretty sure my plumbing skills weren't up to this challenge, and that it would save time, aggravation, and money to have a professional fix it.  Soldering takes practice to do well, and I had little experience ever doing it myself, and none in the last twenty years.  But, getting a plumber on short notice was going to be expensive.  I decided that I would suffer with a small drip until I could back from the HL7 WGM and supervise a plumbing repair.

Today, my wife reported that the cold water taps in two locations weren't working.  I went back downstairs, and sure enough, had forgotten to turn back on one of the shut-off valves.  The drip really didn't get any worse, but I kept my ear out during the day.  This afternoon, someone started running water upstairs, and I could hear the drip quickly progress from drip to stream to spray.  So I shut things off again.

This was now a mess, because I leave tomorrow morning at Oh-dark-hundred to go to the HL7 WGM.  I knew my plumbing skills weren't up to the challenge, but I checked out the internet just in case.  I found something called Sharkbite, which was just a push-to-fit fitting that promised to be water-tight and easy to use.

I picked up the 18" hose (see picture above) and a pipe cutter, cut out the filter (we weren't using it any more after we had switched over to a water cooler), and pushed on the hose.  It all worked, simply and easily, and the repair (including a half-hour trip to the hardware store), took less than an hour.  A real plumber could do it in 5 minutes.  If you have to do plumbing, this is the way to do it.  Even an unskilled person like me could use them.

Now today, on the HITsm tweet chat, we were asked about how we would know when interoperability had been achieved.  I half-jokingly reported that it would be when this blog was no longer necessarily.  But imagine, what if it was that easy to connect two healthcare IT systems?  That's where HL7's FHIR comes in for me.  FHIR makes it easy for someone with very little experience to hook things up quickly and easily.  If you have to do Healthcare IT plumbing, that's the way to do it.  I look forward to the second FHIR Connectathon this weekend.  I have to admit that I'm not as prepared for it as I'd like to be, but I'm not really worried about that.  After all, I have quite a bit of skill in this art, and FHIR makes the connections easy.


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