The computer failure which has affected all NHS Glasgow hospitals, and which is ongoing still, is an indication of the global dependency on IT and the chaos that can ensue when it fails. It is a concerning picture.
[caption id="attachment_2107" align="alignright" width="150"] Glasgow Cathedral &Royal Infirmary[/caption]
My heart went out to all the people whose operations and treatments were cancelled, including many chemotherapy patients to whom the delay must have caused great distress. It seems that clinical information and patient records were inaccessible because of the system breakdown, and that there were no manual records to provide backup. It is to be hoped that the Health Board has in place a good data storage backup system, in case this serious technical breakdown results in serious loss of essential files.
The incident has reminded me of how far we rely on a constantly available and efficient computer and internet service, and how much we take it for granted – but without any real evidence that it exists. Obamacare limped into life haltingly on Tuesday because of IT inadequacies, and millions of pounds have been lost by the UK government through several failed super-computer initiatives: there has been much hope and many expectations, but experience has proven that we are far from achieving the vision of a successful, reliable paperless world promised, years ago, by IT developers.
And then there is the internet, weighed down already by the volume of data transmitted every second between individuals, companies and countries everywhere, data which otherwise is untraceable, like hospital records in Glasgow. To compound the potential problem, some of that material is controlled by robots electronically, adding another layer of uncertainty and dependency to the virtual world to which we have become addicted.
It may be that we have become too clever for our own good, as my Grandmother used to say. The computer failures in Glasgow are another reminder to be careful as to how far we allow our lives to be dependent on technology: do you remember what happened in Atlantis?
Image of Glasgow Cathedral and Infirmary by Stephen Sweeny.]]>