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Converting System Failure Histories Into Future Win Situations



D Wallace, David R. Kuhn


Most complex systems today contain software, and systems failures activated by software faults can provide lessons for software development practices and software quality assurance. This paper presents an analysis of software-related failures of medical devices that caused no death or injury but led to recalls by the manufacturers. The analysis categorizes the failures by their symptoms and faults, and discusses methods of preventing and detecting faults in each category. The nature of the faults provides lessons about the value of generally accepted quality practices for prevention and detection methods applied prior to system release. It also provides some insight into the need for formal requirements specification and for improved testing of complex hardware-software systems.


high assurance, medical devices, quality practices, software faults, system failures


Wallace, D. and Kuhn, D. (2000), Converting System Failure Histories Into Future Win Situations, Computer (Accessed May 30, 2024)


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Created January 7, 2000, Updated February 17, 2017