Study shows NHS computers could be the cause of up to 900 deaths per year

Computer issues may be the cause for up to 900 deaths across the NHS every year, two academics have claimed.

Many of the computers distributed to the NHS are said to be ‘bad’ and ‘low quality’, leading to fundamental data logging issues that can lead to negligence and even death.

The computers that store patient records like that such as MRI scan results, are ‘unnecessarily buggy’ and susceptible to ‘cyber-attack’, according to Harold Thimbleby, Professor of Computer Science at Swansea University.

Prof. Thimbleby and his colleague, Martyn Thomas, Professor of Information Technology at Gresham College, warned that that hundreds of deaths a year could be caused by computer problems.

Speaking in a briefing before the lecture, Prof. Thimbleby said: “If you go into a hospital, there isn’t a good word to describe how bad stuff in a hospital is and how unaware people are in hospitals of the low quality: they’re stuck with it.

Claims from a lecture he delivered with a colleague state that NHS staff are already overworked and therefore understanding computer systems isn’t on a primary agenda, so they rarely get fixed.

Thimbleby also pointed out how there are computers from the basements to the wards, and that they are keeping the NHS running.

His colleague showed that America has found 8% of all deaths were caused by hospital errors; quantified to the UK and this could mean that 88,000 deaths and other injuries could be preventable within hospitals, if technology were updated.

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