A life controlled by machines

Dad was very sick this time last year and he would not get better. Soon, he would find himself hooked up to a multitude of machines that kept him alive, yet without awareness. This summer I also experienced the power of machines in the hospital when my mom had her surgery.

I read recently how many of the machines used in hospitals are running on software that’s ancient by today’s constantly-evolving standards. The worst part of it is that there are no simple ways to update the machine’s software, making them very vulnerable to malware attacks. Apparently, it is quite routine for a machine that is hooked up to a critically ill patient to just stop working. Luckily, the staff usually notice before the malfunctioning machine causes any real harm to the patient.

Certainly I saw my share of machines going haywire while my dad and then my mom ended up in the hospital. It’s frightening to think that you are placing your well-being on machines that could stop working at any moment. Sure, when the machines are working they are saving lives, or at least, preserving life for a bit longer.

I remember how my mom received her medications late while she was in the hospital because they were launching a new version of medication-dispensing that was computer-based and it had some glitches. Overall, the new system seemed to offer benefits such as cutting down on medication errors, which cause many deaths each year in hospitals.

But after learning about the potential dangers lurking in the outdated technology used at many hopsitals, I will never ignore or overlook a beeping machine in a hospital again.

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