I just want your opinion on a situation/case study I been given for an assignment at university. I would like to use your opinions to make a critical summary and get opinion from computer professionals.

The situation i've been given is that a X works as a project manager and is working on medical equipment at the moment. X and his team have tested the equipment and found serious faults that can cause fatal consequences however regardless of this, company still wishes to go ahead and release the equipment. X has expressed his concerns about this to superiors.

I would like you opinions if you were in such a position - would you try and prevent equipment this from being released and if not and a fatal consequence did occur would you accept reliability. and also would you inform a third party of the malpractice outside the company your employed by in such a serious case? I have looked at the consequences all of this and acts and professional bodies that X may violate (like ACM) but would like to know what the majority of people would do so that I can draw up a conclusion.

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The faults are serious. Yes, I would prevent the equipment from being released and contact a third party about the situation.

Thank you for your reply. I've found that many of you are viewing this thread it would be really great if you could all share your opinions...... also if you think it is ok to do something unethical to achieve a good outcome? eg X does something unethical like violates company data protection act and company & ACM codes of conduct to stop the equipments release.

Well yes, I would do that. Pretty much I would go to any lengths to stop the release of that equipment, worry about my courier later.

Hello Dina,

Your situation and answers will vary largly on if the person in question has a conscience. I also think that the legal people are dangerously close to opening a pandora's box concerning confidentiality agreements.

I know that medical lawsuits are not only naming the hospitals, but the individual doctors and nurses as defendants for a particular case.

I am a firm believer in disclosure of dangerous elements. If I was in such a position, I would consult with supervisors, and if not satisfied, I would contact a lawyer and make sure I was not held personally liable.

A number of companies are also providing employees with a "anonymous" line to tip off malpractice at the company. I would make a report there, and then document it on paper, again providing evidence that I tried to prevent a disaster, and was working for the best interests of both the community, and the corporation.

I wonder if legal opinions would show that confidentiality agreements remove personal liability from the individuals... "Your Honor, I could not prevent the sale of this item because if I would have told the regulatory commission about the defect, I would have violated a confidentiality agreement that I signed. I could not expose my family to damages."

Let us know what you find out.


Just to chime in here if it is not too late....

On the surface it seems simple. Ya, stop that puppy from being released into the world with your name attached because it will kill people.

But, wait, what do you mean by "serious faults"? 1 in 10 are killed? 1 in 100? everyone?

So, say we built a machine to remove brain tumors from people but it killed 1 in 10. How many would die if the machine didn't operate at all? 1 in 3?

Polio vaccines have saved tens of millions from contracting polio, yet about a dozen people a year get Polio from the vaccine. Release it? you bet!

On the other hand, say you work for a tobaco company. Your product that you worked on will kill millions of people, but not for 40+ years.

You work for Firestone and release tires that occasionally explode causing Ford SUV's to roll over. Do you stop them?

You work for Smith and Wesson. Do you send a memo to your boss saying "Hey, this could kill someone!" Probably not.

You work for Microsoft. You release a version 1 of a product with several hundred bugs. Yet, the product makes a ton-o-money for the company. You will fix many of the bugs in version 2. Someone may use your product for a mission-critical application. Do you stop the release?

So, your question is a tough one to give a reply to. I'd like to think that I would not be associated with anything that kills people. Unless I worked for a defense contractor (which I do not). However, I do work on wireless devices, and who knows what we'll discover about them in 10 years?

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