And the Blood Banks Played On

While watching the movie for class, I think there were several things that came up in the movie related to the class and how engineers can become unethical.  The part of the movie that most connected with me and relating to engineering was the blood bank contamination issue.  This part connects with a common theme of this class in that when engineers get disconnected from those they are supposed to be serving, it opens the door for harm to come to those they are meant to protect.

In the DC lead case an example of this is Lynette Stokes ignoring the threat of lead in water and not listening to the public she is meant to serve.  In the movie it was the blood banks who refused to recognize that people getting contaminated blood was a problem.  This is highlighted in the meeting between the CDC and the blood banks where the main character yells at them, “How many hemophiliacs have to die before you’ll do anything!?”  It is a very interesting issue to think about cost benefit analysis of how many people need to get hurt before you accept the extra cost needed to correct the issue.  How many hemophiliacs need to die before testing all the blood in the blood banks?  How many children need to get lead poisoning before correcting the water chemistry? How many people need to burn alive in Ford Pintos before accepting the extra $11 per car to correct a faulty design?  In all of these cases those who have the jobs of providing a good product, blood, water, and cars, have gotten lost in the business end and failed their customers, hurting their business far worse than if they would have just accepted the extra cost.

In the movie 28,000 people received AIDS contaminated blood, in DC children got lead poisoning and fetuses were aborted, and in Ford’s case people burned and died.  This was also highlighted in the movie when it is said at a meeting, when doctors start acting like business men, where will people turn for doctors? (not in quotes because I can’t remember the precise wording)  I really liked this point because I think you can replace doctors with a lot of professions and get a valuable lesson.

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