California Hospital Informs Patient Of Imminent Death… Via Robot

Credit - Jorunn Tengesdal Stavnheim

A patient was told by a robot that he was going to die. Or at least by a robot with video connection with a doctor. The man’s family find the way of communicating disrespectful.

“It’s not really the way to show sympathy with a patient,” they claim.

78-year-old Ernest Quintana was in the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont, California, when a doctor brought him some very bad news this week.

Indirectly, via a robot equipped with a screen with video connection. Ernest had only a few more days to live, he was told.

“The robot told him that the only option for his lung disease was to make it comfortable, remove the mask that helps him to breathe, and give him morphine until he dies,” a friend of Ernest’s daughter explained on Facebook. The elderly man died the next day.

“If you come to tell us normal news, this way of communicating is okay”, sighed his daughter Catherine.

“But this kind of news had to be brought by a man, not by a machine.”

“It was an extremely frustrating situation,” added girlfriend Julianne.

“A horror showing of how care and technology clash. I find the technological progress in the medical world beautiful,” she says.

“But the line of ‘where’ and ‘when’ to use it should be drawn.”

The hospital says it regrets “not meeting the expectations of the family.”

Vice-chairman Michelle Gaskill-Hames responds that according to hospital policy there should always be a nurse or doctor in the room if a ‘remote consultation’ takes place.

“This evening tele-visit followed previous doctor visits,” she added.

“It was not used in bringing the initial diagnosis.”



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