Patient, 78, told he is going to die by robot videolink

Grant Boone
March 12, 2019

"This is not the way to show value and compassion to a patient ... shame on you Kaiser", she wrote.

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. Would you agree that there's nothing "warm and intimate" about a doctor's robot video message telling a patient they most likely will not be going home because they're going to die!

But Annalisia Wilharm said she never expected a doctor would deliver the bad news about her grandfather via a video screen on a robot.

Ms Wilharm was alone with her grandfather when the doctor remotely told Mr Quintana that his lungs were failing and he would not be going home. "I'm freaking out inside, I'm trying not to cry - I'm trying not to scream because it's just me and him".

The next day, Ernest Quintana passed away.

She filmed the interaction on her phone as the doctor relayed the results of her grandfather's tests.

She continued that the technology allows a small hospital to "have additional specialists" assist with patient care around the clock.

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In a statement to KTVU, Kaiser Permanente Greater Southern Alameda County senior vice president Michelle Gaskill-Hames described the event as "a highly unusual circumstance".

"The evening video tele-visit was a follow-up to earlier physician visits", Ms Gaskill-Hames said in a written response. Annalisa Wilharm said that Mr Quintana's wife was told by a nurse "this is our policy, this is how we do things".

"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 objective and function of the technology", Ms Gaskill-Hames said.

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

Wilharm didn't see a human being, but a machine with a video screen of a doctor.

Hospital administration officials claimed that video conferencing has "worked wonders" for their patients and the patient's families because they're warm and intimate.

The hospital says it "regrets falling short" of the family's expectations.

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