Healthcare at the Interface

When: 6th Mar 2018, 18:00 - 6th Mar 2018, 20:30
Where: BCS, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA
Town/City: London
Organiser: BCS ICT Ethics Specialist Group
Price: Free
Further Information: Further Information

Speaker: Prof. Harold Thimbleby, Swansea University


The story of Jack Adcock’s tragic death in 2011 has recently been widely reported. An over-worked paediatrician, Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, was was given a suspended sentence for manslaughter. The specific case highlights profound problems with healthcare IT and how we think about it: behind the visible ethical issues of error and blame lie systemic problems including, in this case, IT failure.

Ethics is about good, and metaethics recognises there are many ways to think about good. Do we mean professional ethics, obeying a code of practice; do we mean utilitarian ethics, to do the best for everyone; do we mean enviromental ethics to do good for the environment?

Hedonism, doing good for oneself, is another ethical choice.

Conversely, error happens when doing good fails, and there are at least as many types of error and thinking about error as there are about good.

When error happens in programming, the programmer's errors are pushed out into the world, and potentially have a huge impact. In particular in healthcare, patients may be harmed or die. Here we see the unavoidable impact of "ICT Ethics" on others.

About the speaker:

Harold Thimbleby is professor of computer science at Swansea University, Wales.

His passion is designing dependable systems to accommodate human error, especially in healthcare. See CHI+MED: Multidisciplinary Computer-Human Interaction research for the design and safe use of interactive medical devices for a major project he’s been on. See for some of his recent work in healthcare IT.

Harold is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, the Institute of Engineering Technology, the Learned Society of Wales, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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