Windows use in medical spaces (Re: vintage computers in active use)

Ali cctalk at
Fri May 27 16:04:50 CDT 2016

> It makes me wonder how many patients have had to wait on care or didn't
> get proper care because of an IT screwup related to Windows. I have to
> say just _seeing_ Windows on machines in the ER made me livid. I found
> it breathtaking they were that caviler about getting people checked in,
> keeping records straight, etc... I guess I shouldn't have visited the
> sausage factory, so to speak...
> Then again, folks in hospitals probably should be more concerned with
> patients than with their IT tools. Ugh. Still. Windows? I'd have felt
> better about paper forms. At least they don't blue screen.

I would say very few. You have to remember critical systems are not running
a general windows system i.e. people are not surfing the web on them and
installing the latest games recommended by friends from facebook. Windows on
its own is very stable. I.E. if you take a clean install of windows SW on
recommended HW and just use the built in apps and never go on the internet
it will run without any issues. Medical HW makers are basically using
recommended HW, building one application on top of the OS, and test the hell
out of it. Since they limit the HW, SW, and modality of use it runs stable.

Almost all (maybe 80%) of your medical HW is probably running some flavor of

Pyxis/Omnicell: Windows CE
Sonosite: Windows 2K or XP
EMRs: Windows XP or 7 (usually virtualized through Citrix).

Heck DOS is still around too!

The more specialized equipment (fluoro machines, MRI/CT, etc.) usually have
their own OS although I am seeing C-Arms w/ windows back bones now a days as
well. As the focus is going toward cost saving more and more generalized
HW/SW is being used. After all why re-invent everything for each device when
you can use windows to run the HW, network, input, etc. and just have the
medical device (e.g. ultrasound probe) act like a peripheral with its own

Where windows causes an issue for the hospital is in the general business
areas (HR, accounting, administration, etc.). 


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