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

Desiree Burns
March 13, 2019

According to Quintana's granddaughter, Annalisia Wilharm, who was alone with Quintana when the machine rolled into the room, she had to repeat to her grandfather what the doctor was saying because he had hearing difficulties in his right ear, and the machine was unable to go to the other side of the bed.

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.

"The nurse came around and said the doctor was going to make rounds and I thought 'OK, no big deal; I'm here, '" said Wilharm.

"You might not make it home", the doctor said on the screen.

Ernest Quintana, 78, was admitted to the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Fremont, California, with difficulty breathing and his family knew he was dangerously ill.

Ernest Quintana died after being told by a doctor who visited him via robot that there were no more treatment options left.

Imagine if you will a robot wheeling into your hospital room with very, very bad news.

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She took a cellphone video of the encounter, which she eventually relayed to her mother and grandmother.

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

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

"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", Ms Gaskill-Hames said.

She added: "That said, we don't support or encourage the use of technology to replace the personal interactions between our patients and their care teams - we understand how important this is for all concerned, and regret that we fell short of the family's expectations". It "allows a small hospital to have additional specialists such as a board-certified critical care physician available 24/7, enhancing the care provided and bringing additional consultative expertise to the bedside".

"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.

Ms Wilharm, 33, figured the visit was routine. "It felt like someone took the air out of me", she said.

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