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Safer Healthcare by Better Computer Science

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact David Greaves.

Most of the time we can cope when things don’t work very well, but in healthcare badly designed computer systems cause problems that harm and sometimes kill patients. Nurses are often blamed, so fixing the computer science never gets prioritized; in fact, the culture of computing presents it as a solution, so when things go wrong something else must be to blame.

We will show how better computer science can significantly improve safety and reduce design induced harm. Moreover, any problem fixed by better programming becomes a benefit to anybody who uses or is affected by systems, often without requiring training (which for healthcare is a major issue).

Currently, preventable errors in hospitals kill about 80,000 pa in the UK, the third biggest killer after heart disease and cancer. IT of one sort or another contributes to that, so one wonders why higher programming standards are not universally required. While a research programme is needed, the practical problem facing us is to find out how to align the interests of victims (patients, carers and services) with the interests of the manufacturers and regulators. We’ll give some suggestions.

This talk is part of the Wednesday Seminars - Department of Computer Science and Technology series.

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