The Therac-25 and Its Accident Investigation

The Therac-25 and Its Accident Investigation Case Study example
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Design & Technology
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Essay on the Therac-25 and Its Accident Investigation [Student Name] [Instructor Name] [School] [Course/Number] June 2, 2015 Introduction In 1983, a machine was released to help in the treatment of cancerous tumors through the use of high energy laser beams.


The Therac-25 falls into a class of machines referred to as Medical linear accelerators (linacs). They use the principal of accelerating electrons so as to create high energy beams that can be used to destroy any cancerous cells without affecting the other surrounding non- cancerous tissues. For shallow tissues, accelerated electrons were enough to treat them but for the deeper ones, the electrons beams have to be converted into X-ray photons. Defects that lead to the accidents The machine consisted of hardware and software that helped the machine run. The software also monitored the functionality status of the machine and turning on the beam. It was also responsible for turning off the beam and detecting any malfunctions. The software was responsible for running most of the machine functions in conjunction with the hardware. This therefore means that any small bug in the software will lead to malfunctioning of the machine. The software for running the Therac-25 was not extensively tested before it was deployed for use. This was due failure to follow proper system development and implementation practices. Also the programmer didn’t provide enough documentation about the machine and software errors that could guide operators on when there is malfunction and what to do. ...
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