Saturday, January 9, 2010

Medical errors caused by confusing Pounds with Kilograms and Slugs vs Newtons

Fred Trotter wrote a blog entry where he is quoting Senator Grassely of Iowa, which you can read for yourself.

The point I want to address is the important of units in Software Safety:

Over the past year, I have received complaints from patients, medical practitioners and technologies engineers regarding difficulties they have encountered with the HIT and CPOE devices in their medical facilities. These complaints include, for example, faulty software that miscalculated intracranial pressures and interchanged kilograms and pounds, resulting in incorrect medication dosages.

When I was in school getting my degree, I had a Physics teacher that gave all of his lectures in the Metric System. The book covered nothing but the Metric System. All of the tests he gave were in the *English* system!

Conversions where never mentioned, *anyplace*, not the book, not the class, not the homework. Everyone failed the first test. This kind of #)$*#$* in schools, is the kind of thing that makes me believe in Home Schooling, and left a bad taste for "higher education" from ivory towers.

The one good thing to come out of that (?), is everyone in class learned to paying attention to the 'Units'.

In the English System the unit of Weight is the Pound. The unit of Mass is the Slug. In the Metric System the unit of Weight is the Newton. The unit of Mass is the (Kilo)Gram.

So why does this box of organic cereal, first thing at hand with label, say "10 Oz (284g)"? All of these dual unit labels are comparing weight vs mass..., is it any wonder people get confused?