Thursday, 21 March, 2019

The man’s family is upset

California man learns he’s dying from doctor on video shown on robot 'Elderly man told he's going to die via video-link'
Ben Pena | 12 March, 2019, 18:24

Medical bosses are being criticised after a doctor told a 78-year-old man he was going to die via robot videolink.

Wilharm was sitting by her grandfather's bedside in the ICU of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont, California, last Monday night when the machine rolled into their room and a doctor, appearing via live video link, offered his grim prognosis.

Daughter Catherine Quintana says the family is also upset because her father had trouble hearing the doctor through the robot's speaker forcing Wilharm to relay the bad news.

"If you're coming to tell us normal news, that's fine, but if you're coming to tell us there's no lung left and we want to put you on a morphine drip until you die, it should be done by a human being and not a machine", Catherine Quintana, Ernest's daughter and Wilharm's mother, said Friday.

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

"We knew that it was coming and that he was very sick, but I don't think somebody should get that news delivered that way".

This story corrects the age and hearing of Ernest Quintana.

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Steve Pantilat, chief of the palliative medicine division at University of California, San Francisco, said he doesn't know the details in the case but that the robot technology has done wonders for patients and their families, some of whom are too far away for in-person visits.

"Devastated. I was going to lose my grandfather", said Wilharm.

It was through the video call that the doctor told Quintana that he only had days to live. But they're angered by the way the situation was handled and how the news was delivered.

Kaiser said they are continuously learning how to best integrate technology into patient interactions and will use this experience as an opportunity to make improvements.

She said after the visit, he gave her instructions on who should get what and made her promise to look after her grandmother.

"In every aspect of our care, and especially when communicating hard information, we do so with compassion in a personal manner", she said, adding that the term "robot" is "inaccurate and inappropriate".

Catherine says that she spoke to hospital staff about the robot.

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