California patient, 78, told he is going to die via robot videolink

·3-min read
<em>A robot doctor told a patient he was going to die (Picture: Facebook/Julianne Spangler)</em>
A robot doctor told a patient he was going to die (Picture: Facebook/Julianne Spangler)

Medical bosses have fallen under fire after a 78-year-old man was told he was going to die by a doctor via robot videolink.

Ernest Quintana was informed he had just days to live by a doctor who appeared on the robot’s videoscreen.

Mr Quintana died the following day at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont, California.

His daughter’s friend Julianne Spangler hit out at bosses at the center, saying: “This is not the way to show value and compassion to a patient.”

<em>Mr Quintana’s friends and family said it showed a lack of compassion (Picture: Julianne Spangler/Facebook)</em>
Mr Quintana’s friends and family said it showed a lack of compassion (Picture: Julianne Spangler/Facebook)

Posting a picture of the robot’s screen, Ms Spangler wrote on Facebook: “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 Moraphine drip til he dies.

“Thank you Fremont Kaiser for your compassion to a Man who is 100 % aware and alert…

“That Robot Dr. May be ok for some situations but not to tell a Man he is going to Die. Technology at it’s Best ? Had I of been there I would have told him to turn around roll his Ass out and send in a Human !”

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She said Mr Quintana had passed away “with his Family by his side and the Compassion he deserved !”

Ms Spangler later wrote: “As a society We cannot accept this as a ‘new norm’ or ‘standard operating procedure’. there is still a need for human touch especially in the last hours of your life.

“Every struggle, every happy moment, every tear being reduced to a video screen telling you you have no longer to live is not acceptable. Demand better. Appreciate our advances without allowing it to overstep the bounds of compassion.”

<em>Bosses at the Fremont Medical Center said they had fallen short (Picture: Google Maps)</em>
Bosses at the Fremont Medical Center said they had fallen short (Picture: Google Maps)

Mr Quintana’s granddaughter Annalisa Wilharm described the moment the remote doctor informed her grandfather of his impending death on the screen, saying: “I’m freaking out inside, I’m trying not to cry – I’m trying not to scream because it’s just me and him.”

Ms Wilharm said when Mr Quintana’s wife complained a nurse told her it was the centre’s ‘policy’, but Michelle Gaskill-Hames, senior vice-president of Kaiser Permanente Greater Southern Alameda County, said in a statement the policy was to have a nurse or doctor in the room when remote consultations took place.

She said they “don’t support or encourage the use of technology to replace the personal interactions between our patients and their care teams” and the centre had fallen short on this occasion.

“We will use this as an opportunity to review how to improve patient experience with tele-video capabilities,” she added.

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