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

Henrietta Strickland
March 11, 2019

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.

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

For years, Quintana had lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a progressive lung disease that make makes it hard to breathe. A video of the exchange provided to USA TODAY by Wilharm shows a "robot" being used on Monday to tell grandfather and granddaughter that the hospital had run out of effective treatments. It includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Ernest Quintana, 79, was said to have been told by a doctor through the video-link that his lungs were failing, he "might not make it home" and that he did not have long to live. A doctor on the screen began speaking to them. What they were not anticipating was that his prognosis would be delivered remotely by a doctor who was many miles away and hard for the patient to hear.

Wilharm then tells her grandfather the doctor is recommending hospice care at home.

Wilharm told CNN that at that point she had to call her mother and grandmother so they could get back to the hospital. "Our point is the delivery (of the news)".

Ms Spangler said she wanted the media to get involved in the situation after Kaiser Permanente said it would "take note" of the family's complaints.

But it fell short of saying more about when, and under what circumstances, its doctors use telepresence robots to provide care for patients.

Kaiser Permanente Greater Southern Alameda County senior vice-president Michelle Gaskill-Hames said in a statement that its policy was to have a nurse or doctor in the room when remote consultations took place.

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

Wilharm told CNN that a doctor had visited Quintana in person earlier in the day. "Unfortunately, there's nothing we can treat very effectively", he said, according to a video recording that Wilharm shot on her cellphone.

"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".

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

"That was one of the worst days of my life", she said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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