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Cable Modem Problem Reminds Me of Medication-related Problems

Posted Jun 10 2009 6:43pm
I had an experience this week that reminded me about medication-related problems. I get my phone, TV and internet service through Comcast cable. I started having problems with sending and receiving faxes a few weeks ago. I noticed the little clip that holds the line in place was broken off, so I replaced it. That didn't solve my problem. I thought the splitter might be bad, so I bought a new splitter- didn't help.

After getting through the denial phase and that look from my wife, I looked on the Comcast website for more help. I wasn't in much of a rush to fix the problem- I have efax as well. I logged onto the live chat for help. I did this three times. The first tech verified my connections (wires, not business contacts), pinged my modem and "refreshed" the modem settings. Man- my modem looked totally refreshed. When this didn't help, the tech disappeared. The second tech said I should get a second phone line just for the fax. Does it make sense to add a line when the one line worked fine with all the same equipment for over a year? The tech didn't have an answer for me. The third tech asked me how many phone lines I had. Knowing where she was going with this, I asked if the modem might be bad. She said maybe and scheduled a service call. A gentleman from Comcast came out and diagnosed the problem right away. An HP fax uses a two-wire line and I had replaced mine with a four-wire. Problem solved.

What does this have to do with medication-related problems? Other than my new prescriptions (kidding!), it reminded me that the folks at Comcast used a problem-solving technique that's employed day in and day out in health care. Medication side-effects treated with more medications. Instead of troubleshooting the wire, the techs wanted to have me add more services, when all it was was a loose wire that was replace with the wrong wire. Instead of taking the time to get to the root cause, we sometimes react instead of respond. The guy who came out and diagnosed the problem was like a Senior Care Pharmacist discovering a medication-related problem. You can read more about medication-related problems on my website at For tech support, you'll have to look elsewhere.
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