Medicine

Family Upset After a California Hospital Uses Robot to Deliver Death Prognosis

Family Upset After a California Hospital Uses Robot to Deliver Death Prognosis

Seventy-eight-year-old Ernest Quintana had chronic lung disease. "I'm freaking out inside, I'm trying not to cry - I'm trying not to scream because it's just me and him".

He passed away the following day.

A family friend wrote in a Facebook post: "That Robot Dr may be OK for some situations but not to tell a man he is going to die". But they're angered by the way the situation was handled and how the news was delivered. She said it did not replace previous conversations with patients and family members. "Unfortunately, there's nothing we can treat very effectively", he said, according to a video recording that Wilharm shot on her cellphone.

What she didn't expect was what happened after the nurse opened the door.

Wilharm was alone with her grandfather when the doctor remotely told Quintana that his lungs were failing and he would not be going home.

Soon after a robot with a video screen came into the room, accompanied by a nurse who remained silent.

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The doctor delivered the update in the metallic tones of the robot's speakers. She was astonished by what the doctor started saying. It got to a point where she had to tell her grandfather he was dying because he couldn't hear what the robot was saying. What they were not anticipating was that his prognosis would be delivered remotely by a doctor who was many miles away and hard for the patient to hear.

Wilharm then tells her grandfather the doctor is recommending hospice care at home. She said that after the visit, he gave her instructions on who should get what and made her promise to look after her grandmother.

Wilharm told CNN that her family was under no illusions about her grandfather's condition. "Our point is the delivery (of the news)".

"The use of the term "robot" is inaccurate and inappropriate", Gaskill-Hames exclaimed. It "allows a small hospital to have additional specialists such as a board-certified critical care physician available 24/7, enhancing the care provided and bringing additional consultative expertise to the bedside". Mr Quintana was told he had days to live by a doctor via video link.

"We will use this as an opportunity to review how to improve patient experience with tele-video capabilities", she added.

The hospital says it "regrets falling short" of the family's expectations.

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