In this week's "Cybershake," we take a look at how Hurricane Katrina didn't beat war veterans -- or, at least not their medical records. Plus, we hear what one female programmer says about all those busty babes in today's video games.
When emergencies and natural disasters arise, safety advocates advise that people should pack in their survival kits important records -- identification papers, medical records, financial statements -- along with the basic necessities such as food, water, medicines and clothing.
Why? Because as the recent disaster in the Gulf Coast region shows, the vital paper-based records kept at other places might not survive.
A countless number of hospitals, healthcare centers, and doctors' offices have been destroyed by Katrina's fierce wind and water. The result: Doctors and relief workers in the disaster zone can't provide complete medical care to thousands of survivors suffering from complex health issues.
Unless the patient before them happens to be one of the nation's war veterans.
"We were very lucky at the Department of Veterans Affairs because for many years now, our entire system -- which included approximately 5.25 million patients -- has been tracked using electronic medical records," says Scott Hogenson, spokesman for the VA. "And so when a disaster like Katrina strikes… all of these electronic records can be backed up electronically and then safely transported to a remote location away from danger."
And that's exactly what the federal agency managed to do when Katrina came roaring ashore.
"Even as the storm was at its height, we were preserving that medical information -- all of their history, all of their tests, all of their X-rays, all of their ultrasounds, all of their prescriptions were digitally encrypted, stored, secured and then safely shipped to Houston. We had them back online in a matter of hours," says Hogenson."
Switching from paper-based to digitally encoded medical records offers other practical, everyday advantages.
"Say you have a vet who makes his home in Seattle, Washington and [he] goes on vacation to Disneyworld in Orlando," says Hogenson. "He gets sick and has to go to a VA hospital. Boom! The doctor in Orlando has everything."
The federal government hopes to give most Americans computerized medical records within 10 years. But the health care and technology industries have been concerned about issues of cost and security.
-- Larry Jacobs, ABC News
Busty Lara Croft of "Tomb Raider" fame, the bikini-clad athletes of "Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball," the naked "girlfriends" hidden in "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas…" Shouldn't all those scantily clad women in video games get some clothes on?
"It's as though all the games do it, so of course we're going to do it too," says Tara Teich, a 26-year-old programmer for Mad Doc Software in Lawrence, Mass. "If you're making a game about something more general, you don't need to have women that look like that in there."
That's why Teich relishes her job. With only an estimated 10 percent of the video game industry staffed by women, Teich says it's important for her and other female programmers to act as industry watchdog to the boys who'd have all virtual women look unrealistic.