California man learns he's dying from doctor on video shown on robot

Maricruz Casares
Marcha 12, 2019

A hospital in California drew controversy after using a robot to deliver end-of-life news to a patient.

Ms Wilharm said a robot then arrived in the room and the doctor appeared on a video screen.

She said Mr Quintana had passed away with his family by his side and the compassion he deserved. The family knew he was dying of chronic lung disease. She was astonished when the doctor told Mr Quintana he would likely die within days.

It was through the video call that the doctor told Quintana that he only had days to live.

"It was giving his results of his CT scan, and basically telling him he had no lungs left and the only thing he could recommend would be comfort care", said daughter Catherine Quintana.

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

Quintana's granddaughter, Annalisia who was in the hospital went on to say that when the roving robot doctor entered her grandfather's room, he was having trouble breathing but still the video began talking to him about his case. But they're angered by the way the situation was handled and how the news was delivered.

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Kaiser Permanente Senior Vice-President Michelle Gaskill-Hames issued a statement following the passing of Mr. Quintana nearly a week later. According to her, they said that "it's policy, that's what we do now".

"The evening video tele-visit was a follow-up to earlier physician visits", Ms Gaskill-Hames said in a written response.

"Our health care staff receive extensive training in the use of telemedicine, but video technology is not used as a replacement for in-person evaluations and conversations with patients", reads the statement, which was published in full by KTVU.

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

"We regret falling short in meeting the patient's and family's expectations in this situation and we will use this as an opportunity to review how to improve patient experience with tele-video capabilities", Ms Gaskill-Hames added.

"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. "It felt like someone took the air out of me", she said.

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