Hospital 'robot' gives man end of life news

Alicia Farmer
March 11, 2019

The doctor appeared on a live video feed via the robot and told Quintana that he was likely to die within days.

Ernest Quintana, 78, who was being treated at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont, California, was informed of the tragic news by a doctor on the robot's screen, who told him he only had a few days left to live.

The machine could only reach the right side of the bed but Mr Quintana was hard of hearing in his right ear, requiring his granddaughter to repeat everything the remote doctor said.

Mr Quintana died the next day.

"This secure video technology is a live conversation with a physician using tele-video technology, and always with a nurse or other physician in the room to explain the goal and function of the technology", Gaskill-Hames added.

"This guy can not breathe, and he's got this robot trying to talk to him", she said.

"We understand how important this is for all concerned, and regret that we fell short of the family's expectations", she said. But I don't think somebody should get the news delivered that way.

"It does not, and did not, replace ongoing in-person evaluations and conversations with a patient and family members".

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When Mr Quintana's wife arrived, she complained to hospital staff about how the news was broken to her husband.

A septuagenarian Californian learnt of his impending death through a video link, outraging his family, who protested against the dehumanised and robotic way in which the news was delivered.

"You know, I don't know if he's going to get home", the doctor says, adding that the best treatment plan at that point was to begin focusing on Quintana's comfort.

Wilharm told CNN her family knew that her grandfather would die soon.

Wilharm said the in-person doctor was "very sweet" and held her grandfather's hand as she spoke with him about hospice care and his options.

Family friend Julianne Spangler slammed the hospital for its lack of care, saying this was "not the way to show value and compassion to a patient".

"Thank you Fremont Kaiser for your compassion to a Man who is 100 per cent aware and alert.That robot doctor may be OK for some situations but not to tell a man he is going to die".

Ms Spangler said she wanted the media to get involved in the situation after Kaiser Permanente said it would "take note" of the family's complaints.

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