Online Case Study:
MedSoft, a software development company has just produced a new software package that uses state-of-the-art programming technology to help physicians arrive at a patient’s diagnosis using a handheld computer. MedSoft is sold exclusively through SoftSales, another firm that sells and supports medical software. Dave, the president of the MedSoft, knows that some parts of the program have not been well tested, but he also believes that the first firm to put this kind of software on the market is likely to capture the largest market share. MedSoft advertises the program widely, but when it actually ships the product, it includes a disclaimer indicating that “MedSoft is not responsible for errors resulting from the use of this program.” MedSoft expects to receive (and in fact, invites) a number of complaints, queries, and suggestions for modification, and they use those complaints and suggestions to make changes, which are included in occasional automatically downloaded updates to the program.. Dave argues that this is a typical practice in the software industry and that anyone who buys version 1.0 of a program knows this and will take proper precautions. In addition to Medsoft, Dave has also produced another product called Medsoft Personal, which is sold directly to patients to help them determine whether particular symptoms require a visit to their physicians. In order to market Medsoft Personal, Dave has asked a number of physicians for lists of their patients to which he will send a special offer, and he offers a commission to the physicians for every patient who purchases Medsoft Personal. Unfortunately, a number of physicians relied entirely on MedSoft’s program and, as a result of some still-unknown bugs, the physicians relying on the program made diagnostic errors. In one case, an error resulted in a patient being rushed to the emergency room after being sent home with an incorrect prescription that aggravated his un-diagnosed heart problem.
Discussion Questions: 1. Based upon the reading you have done, to what extent do you believe each of the following may have liability: MedSoft? SoftSales? Physicians who relied on it? Make sure to support your opinion with specific references to the book and/or online readings.
2. With the exception of the injured patient, what other potential legal issues do you see present in this case? Be specific in describing each one and why you believe it could be a legal issue. Again, make sure to support your opinion(s) with specific references to the readings. 3. Using your favorite web search engine, do some research on the legal concept of “contributory negligence”. In your post, describe what contributory negligence is and whether or not it applies to this case. If you believe that it does, how do you see it applying?
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