Saturday, 19 December 2015

Liberated from the Mindray

Today is Liberation Day. When I came onto the ward, I was connected by five leads to a machine that displays a moving graph and numbers for ECG, oxygen saturation, non-invasive blood pressure and respiration. Yesterday, in everyday language, that started "playing up." These machines are like a lot of yesterday's technology in that they have a complex nest of menus and submenus with non-obvious titles, default settings and navigation. Once you get lost down a dark alley, it can be difficult to find the path home again.

The problem is that if an "Internet of Things" approach were adopted, and all such data were displayed in a user-chosen GUI on any device, there would be a whole new front opened up for hackers to steal sensitive data.

Anyway, my five-lead machine was replaced with a slightly newer three-lead machine that was basically similar in principle: the "Mindray Datascope Trio." On the website of Pacific Medical, there is a section "Customers who viewed this product also viewed" and at MedEquip, you get "Questions and Answers" beginning "Handle is broken off." This is a bit like a bad review for a little-visited hotel on TripAdvisor. You don't know whether it is just one fusspot who always finds hotel rooms too small, the sink smelly and the staff rude or whether the hotel does actually stink.

Likewise, we might at MedEquip have a lone bodily function monitoring enthusiast whose yorkshire terrier knocked over the Mindray he had saved up for, and smashed the handle off, or whether hospitals the world over have overstretched staff running up and down corridors for replacement Mindrays because of a general faulty handle problem. Comment may be free but it isn't always that helpful. (And let me just make it absolutely clear that in feedback, Integris equipment offered to replace the handle the same day.)

I found it disconcerting to be connected by wires to something called a Mindray, and carefully checked that the ethernet port had nothing in it. I'm not having my oxygen saturation data hacked and sold to my enemies. On Twitter, I declared my intention to root the Mindray, re-boot it with Linux Mint and load films on it. I didn't get round to doing that but I did find the user manual and download it in the name of patient autonomy.

I thought that my next step on the ladder of recovery was to be temporarily disconnected from the Mindray for visits to the bathroom. That would have been welcome enough, but to my joy, the protocol was actually for the electrodes to be unclipped and for me to "mobilise."

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