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Quality of Life

The decision to computerize a medical linear accelerator was, in the beginning, a quality of life consideration. AECL did not set out to make a device that would expose individuals to harm. It made improvements in a device that would, in theory, allow greater access to a medical technology and would increase the quality of care those patients received. In our interview with a Therac operator, you can find testimony about the increased quality of life provided for operators and patients by the new machine. But in the process, a lax culture of safety at AECL led to a system design that was unsafe and not well tested. In this case, the values of safety and increased quality of life for consumers need not have been in conflict. But in practice, they became so.

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