Computing Cases Header, Picture of a Keyboard with the text "" printed over it

Case Materials

Case Navigation

Therac-25 Case

Teaching Intro

Socio-Technical Analysis

Ethical Analysis


Supporting Documents



Teaching Tools

Teaching with Cases

Social Impact Analysis

Computer Ethics Curriculum

Curricula Index

Case Materials



Hughes Aircraft

Ethics in Computing Links

Contact Us


Privacy issues may well be raised by this case as one begins to recommend some sort of a national reporting mechanism for medical devices. In order to accurately report on any accident, sensitive medical data about individuals would need to be collected by treatment facilities and made available to national agencies. These national agencies might, in turn, make this data available internationally. In our case data about the accidents was shared by agencies of the Canadian and US governments.

It seems possible to make the data on patient records related to medical accidents anonymous — to separate the data from the identity of the patient. But one would have to think carefully about how to do this. The quickest solution, attaching the patient’s medical history, is likely collecting too much data and violating the privacy of the patient. Collecting only as much data as is needed is a reasonable requirement.

Back to Ethical Issue Chart

Next Issue