Editor's note

Modern medicine is sometimes criticized for lacking a human touch, but there are times when we actually need more automation, writes Thomas Hooven of Columbia University Medical Center. Hooven, a neonatologist, explains how automated oxygen monitors for premature newborns could be the difference between life and death, saving the 30 critical seconds that it might take a nurse to respond to a struggling infant. Airplanes can land themselves in a dense fog, writes Hooven, so why can’t we allow automated devices to protect patients? The answer may surprise you.

Lee Blaney and his students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County have detected traces of sunscreens and birth control hormones in shellfish from waters around Baltimore. Other studies have found similar substances in waters as remote as Antarctica — evidence that pharmaceuticals and personal care products are a significant new class of water pollutants that could threaten the environment and human health.

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Lynne Anderson

Senior Editor, Health & Medicine

Top story

From closed-loop ventilators to smarter vital sign monitors, automation has untapped potential to improve medical outcomes. From www.shutterstock.com

Why are we dragging our feet when more automation in health care will save lives?

Thomas Hooven, Columbia University Medical Center

In planes, trains and cars, we increasingly entrust our lives to automated safety systems. It's time for medical technology to catch up.

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