Project #13730 - Therac-25 Case Study

Read the Therac-25 case study handout attached.

 write a 8 page discussion paper addressing the points below.

1) Summarize the main facts, timelines and issues with the Therac-25 machine as they related to the massive overdoses of radiation treatment administered to six known patients.

2) Identify the obvious, and not as obvious, persons or entities (There are many. Examples: manufacturer, hospital, software programmer) who contributed to the severe radiation overdoses.

3) Of the persons and entities involved, discuss who bears responsibility for the severe injuries of six patients and to the deaths of three. Be specific about what each party did and did not do, and what each should have done. Don’t limit your discussion to just what the law or regulations might have required; point out professional responsibilities and human considerations. What safeguards, both technology-based and human, should have been in place?

4) Discuss the following ethical issues as they relate to the Therac 25 case:
a) Quality of Life vs. Safety Risks: The Therac-25 improved the health outcomes and quality of life for many patients needing radiation treatment. It also was responsible for injuries and deaths. How do we manage such risk? Do we rely on professionals (Risk Analysts) to accurately assess risks to companies and consumers? What if the risk analyst is employed by the company?  W
ho should have the power to enforce the acceptance of risks on others?

b) Individual Rights to Privacy: Should the personal health information about injured patients be made available without their consent to facilitate investigation of the accidents and discovering what went wrong?
c) Property/Intellectual Rights: Should a manufacturer be compelled to make its intellectual property open for inspection in the name of safety?
d) Equity and Access: Companies need to make profits to develop and sustain new technologies and to thrive in the marketplace. If overly regulated, those companies pass safety and development costs to consumers putting the less-wealthy or under-insured at a disadvantage. In some cases it might not be "worth it" for the company to develop potential life-saving technology for the marketplace at all. How does this impact equity and access to critical health care for all strata of society? 
e) Honesty and Deception: What obligations do salespeople, engineers, management have to report misleading claims or gaps in safety? Can they balance societal obligation with obligation to the company employing them?

 

5) What design and implementation flaws in the Therac would be less likely to occur today? What risks still would remain? Why? There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers but be sure to provide facts and reasoning to support your conclusions. Bonus points for citing an example of a modern-day case similar to Therac.

Using what we are learning in Microsoft WORD, format your paper using APA style, in text citations as appropriate, bullets or numbered lists, and so forth. We will take this paper and use it as a platform to write an abstract, create a table of contents and other topics in WORD.

 

Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 10/04/2013 12:00 am
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