A US Doctor Told A Patient He Was Dying Via A Video Screen Fitted To A Robot

The family of a US man with chronic lung disease were left astounded when a robot fitted with a video screen rolled into his room to deliver the news that he was dying.

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The 78-year-old man, Ernest Quintana, was alone with his granddaughter, Annalisia Wilharm, at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Centre in Fremont, California, when they were notified by a nurse that a doctor would be doing his rounds. The machine rolled in shortly after.

The doctor appeared on a live video feed via the robot and told Quintana that he was likely to die within days. While his family was aware that his condition was not great, they were shocked that news of this calibre was not delivered in person.

Julianne Spangler, a friend of the family, shared an image of the moment on Facebook, saying that “This is the Robot Dr. That came into Cathies Fathers ICU room late Monday night and told him he has no Lungs left.” 

“Only option is comfort care, remove the mask helping him breathe and put him on a Morphine drip til he dies.”

Because the robot couldn’t get to the left side of the bed, Ms Wilharm said she had to repeat everything the doctor was saying as her grandfather was hard of hearing in his right ear. When she attempted to confirm the doctor’s advice on next steps and at-home hospice, the doctor said: “you know, I don’t know if he’s going to get home.”

Quintana passed away two days after he was taken to hospital surrounded by family and friends.

Senior vice president of the Kaiser Permanente Greater Southern Alameda CountyMichelle Gaskill-Hames, has defended the use of the machine, saying that it’s usually used for follow-up visits where an initial face-to-face visit was made.

“It did not replace previous conversations with patient and family members and was not used in the delivery of the initial diagnosis,” she said.

Gaskill-Hames does admit, however, that the hospital regrets “falling short” on the expectations of the patient and his family.

Spangler said in her post that if she was there at the time, she would have told the robot to “roll his Ass out and send in a Human”.

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