'Elderly man told he's going to die via video-link'


The man died days after the doctor delivered the news at Kaiser Permanente Medical Centre.

Ernest Quintana was admitted to the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center emergency department in Fremont, California, on March 3, granddaughter Annalisia Wilharm told USA TODAY in a written message Saturday.

"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.

Mr Quintana's granddaughter Annalisa Wilharm described the moment the remote doctor informed her grandfather of his impending death on the screen. Mr Quintana was told he had days to live by a doctor via video link. She said she and her family hope no one else receives the same treatment.

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

Wilharm figured the visit was routine.

Wilharm said she had no idea who the doctor was or where he was located.

"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".

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"Thank you Fremont Kaiser for your compassion to a Man who is 100 per cent aware and alert.That robot doctor may be OK for some situations but not to tell a man he is going to die".

Because the robot couldn't get to the left side of the bed, Ms Wilharm said she had to repeat everything the doctor was saying as her grandfather was hard of hearing in his right ear.

"The use of the term "robot" is inaccurate and inappropriate", she exclaimed.

The next day, Ernest Quintana passed away.

"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. 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.

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

A friend of the family, Julianne Spangler, posted an image of the video call to Facebook.