The London Hospital Survival Predictor, London, England, 1972
The London Hospital Survival Predictor, 1972
The London Hospital Survival Predictor predicted whether patients in a coma following heart attacks would survive. The device and the methods of analysing the data were developed by medical physicist, Douglas Maynard, while working at The London Hospital in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was also an early example of a neural network. Neural networks ‘learn’ from the data collected. The condition of being ‘brain dead’ was influentially described in 1968 by a Harvard University Group. It was subsequently introduced into many legal systems. The medical Royal Colleges in the UK introduced the term ‘brain stem death’ in 1976. This enabled decision as to when organ donation could be carried out. This ambitious device was never used to determine whether a patient had already died or should have life-support withdrawn. However, its invention indicated growing problems presented by intensive care, organ donation and the concept of brain death. This is the only surviving example of the device.