Hacking technology to provide low cost tools for people with disabilities: The Eyewriter.

The EyeWriter Initiative is an ongoing collaborative research effort to empower people who are suffering from ALS with creative technologies via low-cost eye-tracking apparatus & custom software to draw using only their eyes.”

The important thing here is that technology to support people with disabilities is being created by small firms like this to provide very inexpensive tools at very little cost using off the shelf parts. The “competition” provides tools like this for upwards of $20,000. I’d like to see more of these types of solutions– a “technology hacking” culture to provide low cost tools for people with disabilities.

Study: Half of Infection Deaths Linked Directly to Hospital Care.

Sepsis and pneumonia, two infections that can often be prevented with tight infection control practices in hospitals, killed 48,000 patients and added $8.1 billion to heath care costs in 2006 alone, according to a study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The news, principal investigator Ramanan Laxminarayan tells the Health Blog, is that the study for the first time links about half of all infection deaths directly to infections acquired in the hospital in the course of care…
Accompanying the study is an editorial co-authored by Johns Hopkins Hospital safety guru Peter Pronovost, creator of one of the checklists used by hospitals to prevent infections. While he says the estimates in the study may have some “systematic errors” in calculating costs and mortality, “they suggest a substantial opportunity to reduce patient harm.”

48,000 deaths is the equivalent of 192 planes full of 250 people crashing every year. Add the other 50,000 who die in hospitals for other reasons associated with medical errors and it’s the equivalent of allowing a plane a day to crash with 250 people on board. The airline industry fixed their problems. And now we live in a markedly safer world, especially considering there are 40,000 flights a day in America alone.

It is criminal for the hospital industry to continue allowing these deaths due to lack of standards and protocols. Hospitals in America are by far the most dangerous places in America. Stay out of them as much as possible. And if you have to be in them, demand that nurses and doctors follow protocols with checklists for infection control. If they don’t, go to another hospital.

Study: Half of Infection Deaths Linked Directly to Hospital Care.

I’m here in Cape Town, South Africa for Design Indaba. The speakers all went on a little sunset cruise down to the cape last night. It’s the tip of the earth…so beautiful. Afterwards, Michael Beirut, Bill Drenttel (who runs Winterhouse and Design Observer), and I went for sushi. Damn good times…

Here’s a photo from the boat. Prior to leaving NYC, I had to make a decision about which camera to bring. I have the Canon 5D Mark II with a 50mm f1.2 L lens…it produces absolutely amazing photos. And I also have the iPhone 3GS. Since I never print photos from a trip and hate lugging around a massive, but beautiful camera, I opted for just the iPhone. Wise decision…

I’m off to South Africa to Design Indaba. I’m potentially speaking. If not this year, next year.

I’ve never been to South Africa. I’ll be speaking (if I do) about Designing Health and how other countries can leapfrog the problems we face in the US due to our political and historical issues. South Africa is in quite a rough situation due to the HIV epidemic (as you can see in this gapminder).