California man learns he’s dying from doctor on robot video

Author: 
By JANIE HAR | AP
ID: 
1552096367409537700
Sat, 2019-03-09 05:40

SAN FRANCISCO, California: Ernest Quintana’s family knew he
was dying of chronic lung disease when he was taken by ambulance to
a hospital, unable to breathe.
But they were devastated when a robot machine rolled into his room
in the intensive care unit that night and a doctor told the
78-year-old patient by video call he would likely die within
days.
“If you’re coming to tell us normal news, that’s fine, but if
you’re coming to tell us there’s no lung left and we want to
put you on a morphine drip until you die, it should be done by a
human being and not a machine,” his daughter Catherine Quintana
said Friday.
Ernest Quintana died Tuesday, two days after being taken to the
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center emergency department in
Fremont.
Michelle Gaskill-Hames, senior vice president of Kaiser Permanente
Greater Southern Alameda County, called the situation highly
unusual and said officials “regret falling short” of the
patient’s expectations.
But the hospital also defended its use of telemedicine and said its
policy is to have a nurse or doctor in the room at the time of
remote consultations.
“The evening video tele-visit was a follow-up to earlier
physician visits,” Gaskill-Hames said in a written response.
“It did not replace previous conversations with patient and
family members and was not used in the delivery of the initial
diagnosis.”
Hospital officials say the technology doesn’t replace in-person
conversations with the patient and loved ones.
Granddaughter Annalisia Wilharm, 33, was alone with Quintana when a
nurse popped in to say a doctor would be making his rounds. A robot
rolled in and a doctor appeared on the video screen.
Wilharm figured the visit was routine. She was astonished by what
the doctor started saying.
“This guy cannot breathe, and he’s got this robot trying to
talk to him,” she said. “Meanwhile, this guy is telling him,
‘So we’ve got your results back, and there’s no lung left.
There’s no lung to work with.’“
Wilharm said she had to repeat what the doctor said to her
grandfather, because he was hard of hearing in his right ear and
the machine couldn’t get to the other side of the bed.
“So he’s saying that maybe your next step is going to hospice
at home,” Wilharm is heard saying in a video she recorded of the
visit. “Right?“
“You know, I don’t know if he’s going to get home,” the
doctor says.
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 video meetings are warm and intimate, he said, adding that not
all in-person discussions have empathy and compassion.
“No matter how well we deliver very difficult news, it’s sad
and it’s hard to hear,” he said.
Wilharm said her grandfather, a family man who kept every childhood
drawing he ever gave her, deserved better. She said that after the
visit, he gave her instructions on who should get what and made her
promise to look after her grandmother.
“He was such a sweet guy,” she said.

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California man learns he’s dying from doctor on robot video