California Kaiser Permanente hospital uses robot to tell patient of his imminent death

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On Sunday, March 3, 2019, suffering from breathing difficulties, 78-year-old Ernest Quintana was taken to the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center emergency department in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fremont, California.

That night in intensive care, granddaughter Annalisia Wilharm, 33, was alone with Quintana when a nurse popped in to say a doctor would be making his rounds.

Instead of a doctor, a robot rolled in and a doctor appeared on the video screen.

Annalisia was shocked by what the on-screen doctor said. Annalisia recounted that her grandfather “cannot breathe, and he’s got this robot trying to talk to him, saying: “So we’ve got your results back, and there’s no lung left. There’s no lung to work with.”

Annalisia said she had to repeat what the on-screen doctor said to her grandfather because he was hard of hearing in his right ear and the robot was unable to get to the other side of the bed.

Ernest Quintana died two days after he’d been admitted to ER.

Quintana’s family had known he would die of his chronic lung disease, but were not expecting to receive news of his imminent death via a robot instead of a doctor delivering the news in person.

Daughter Catherine Quintana said: “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.”

The hospital has defended its use of the robot, insisting that the diagnosis came after several physician visits and that it did not replace “previous conversations with the patient and family members”.

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 to explain the purpose and function of using the robot.

Annalisia said her grandfather, “a family man who kept every childhood drawing he ever gave her, deserved better.” (CBS News) She said that after the robot 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.

Sources: CBS News; Sky News.



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27 responses to “California Kaiser Permanente hospital uses robot to tell patient of his imminent death

  1. Next it’ll be “telemedicine” consultations from a “doctor” in a call center in India reading test results off a screen. These robots almost redefine “medical Taylorism,” a very real human engineering science in which the number of billable doctor contacts are maximized for money, now to the level of such revealing callousness. Every detail of our doctor and dentist visits are functions of modernized, sophisticated time-and-motion studies, factually modeled on Toyota’s assembly line procedures, with money obviously being our doctor and dentist’s number one priority. And please, don’t anyone embarrass himself by saying his doctor or dentist is different for the bedside shtick and plastic, condescending smile.

    • You actually are not far off. In some areas of telemedicine, Kaiser uses docs in Australia, especially during the overnight hours. The entire Kaiser model is about cost cutting and providing a tiered formula for treatment, with the least expensive first. They are the blueprint literally, for government run care.

      • My point is the scandal of medical Taylorism behind the money grubbing callousness of the “docs,” that ludicrous self-description accurately exposing their pompous self importance rivaling even that of airline pilots.

  2. I want a second opinion! Send me another tin man!
    I once (forty five years ago) worked for a man who walked a robot (not his own) into a swimming pool.

  3. The longer I live, and the more “complicated” my husband’s health becomes, the more I see the wisdom behind the Christian Scientist’s stance on medicine.

    Other than muscle relaxers and opiate pain killers (which are harder and harder to come by), “medicine”—and the doctors who so freely prescribe them—do far more harm than good.

    At the risk of stirring controversy, I refuse nearly all annual testing: no mammograms, colonoscopies, or body scans for me, thank you. I concede to a blood panel every four or five years, and an occasional echocardiogram to check the progress of my leaky heart valves, but other than that, no thank you. If God sees fit for me to die of cancer (or whatever else), so be it; hopefully, it’ll be in my own bed. Without ANY doctors, robotic or otherwise.

    • Recynd,
      Sorry to hear the health of the Good Professor continues to be complicated. I’ve heard you mention the new barriers to getting needed opiates before. I was wondering if you are aware that you can order the seeds of Papaver somniferum, which should grow quite readily in your garden. It’s not illegal as an ornamental horticultural endeavor, and the plant material is easily processed for medical use.

      Also, as you probably know, medical cannabis is a useful auxiliary to opiates. Not to mention kratom.

      In other news, congratulations on your successful re-model! It must have been a lot of work. So, cheers!

      P.S. I’m with you. I too ‘refuse nearly all annual testing’, flu shots, suggested pharmaceuticals, etc. Thank God we still can.

      • Toni,

        Thanks for the post. Yes, as a matter of fact, I am familiar with papaver somniferum, and I’ve got seeds awaiting planting next year. I was tangentially involved with the quiet crackdown on “ornamental pods” back in the 90s, when I got an eyeful of just how determined the DEA (etc.) can be when they want to be. Disgusting, actually. I also keep a supply of Kratom, just in case.

        Cannabis has been helpful, and my husband still has access to narcotic pain relief, thank God, but we don’t know for how long.

        We’re still smack-dab in the middle of the remodel, so keep us in your prayers. ♥️

        • I hear you. My health insurance was bought out by Kaiser (ain’t it grand?). It’s been on a downhill slope ever since. My wife has Fibromyalgia and used to get some sort of opiate medication. Now they’ve slashed that and she has to go in for pee tests (really pisses her off!). It’s insulting.

          The cannabis may help. It helps with my autistic daughter when she gets into one of her things. It works better than any other pharmaceutical they’ve prescribed. Of course it isn’t covered on your health insurance.

          I can get real upset over this if I let myself. I spend a HUGE amount each month on insurance and my retirement also pays into it. Every year the rates go up and so does the co-pay. Now, with Kaiser taking over, the quality starts to circle the bowl. All they hire are part-time doctors and they can’t seem to keep them.

          Anyway, not that it helps, but you aren’t alone. It’s ridiculous.

          • There’s an extremely simple solution which your feral gubbmint refuses to install: insist that it copies our Canadian medical system. Longtime readers know that I’ve written 2 or 3 detailed comments on why it works.

            Here is my most distilled answer.

            1. Think of it as a National Lottery: everyone pays a little each month but only a small percentage take from it.

            2. It’s not a socialised medical system: walk-in clinics are mostly owned by the MDs who work there. The staff are not unionized, but are usually well-trained medical office assistants by vocational colleges.

            3. Each province has a college of physicians & surgeons: it bargains with the provincial government yearly or on a needs basis for a flat fee for each office visit, operation or procedure. This prevents runaway opportunism by elite surgeons, for example. Each province has a Ministry that collects costs and compares them with Ministries in other provinces, so we can see if we’re getting a bang for our buck.

            4. Generally hospitals are run as non-profit entities, but there are some private hospitals if you wish to move to the head of the line. The problem is of course that they are just as expensive as in the US, but you are free to choose.

            Generally speaking money for the hospitals comes from a portion of sales tax. In BC government liquor stores turn a good profit: all of this money is bookmarked for Hospitals.

            I hope this helps and that you can persuade your legislatures to do the same. It’s not rocket science!

            • All great advice however, I can’t pay “my legislators” as much as the insurance lobbyists do. That pretty much closes that door.

  4. Frankly, I don’t call this appropriate “telemedicine,” I call it down right ghoulish. It is beyond the pale that they cannot send in a “real” living, breathing doctor to deliver the bad news. Well, thats Kaiser for you.

    My Mother was hospitalized at our Kaiser here in Portland back in 1980. She had a blood clot in her leg . . . rather than catherize her, they let her get out of bed to use the bedside commode. The blood clot dislodged, and went to her lungs, and she was gone in four minutes.

    Kaiser was the only medical facility that my Father ever went to in his adult life. When he became rather old, he suffered with severe problems with one of his knees . . . they kept putting him off as far as providing knee replacement surgery. So, I took him to his next appointment, and I played the “heavy.” It was rather surprising just how fast they could schedule a surgery date for him. I was always left with the thought . . . “How many other elderly people out there who are on Kaiser, who are not bold enough to advocate for themselves–so they just get strung along with no offer of restorative care?” I have never utilized Kaiser in my adult life because I do not approve of their “business model.”

    To save money by the utilization of a robot to deliver the news that your death is imminent truly is just egregious, in my opinion.

  5. I’m totally with you. I don’t go to a doctor unless I think I’m going to die anyway. My 99 year old mother has been battling the flu and pneumonia since February 1. The “care” she got in the hospital nearly killed her because of their so-called “protocols.” They discharged her with a raging case of pneumonia which they did not tell us about, nor was it on her discharge papers. It was diagnosed at the skilled nursing unit she went to for physical therapy. As of this weekend she is recovering but not because of any medical treatment she has gotten. My mother is strong, stubborn and just plain refuses to give up. This is the 3rd time in 10 years that my mother has recovered from serious illness after the doctors gave up on her. She has made fools of the entire medical profession because doctors and nurses don’t practice medicine anymore. They practice “protocols.”


    THIS is what A.I. is all about: Where they cannot simply stamp out our common humanity, they will insult it at every twist and turn they can find. Annalisa said her “grandfather deserved better.” We all deserve better, and we have to get the word out and go after these A.I. promoters and transhumanists before they destroy us all.

    We have to understand a number of things. First and foremost, we have to simply accept that almost everything we’ve been taught is a BIG FAT LIE. There is no Evolution: It’s a LIE. There is no “population explosion”: It’s a LIE. There is no tremendous debt we cannot repay: That, too, is a LIE.

    We are living in an Anti-Christ system, and its pillars are British eugenics and Satanism. (Actually, I’m surprised they haven’t reached the Great Culling by now). Just as “The fog comes in on little cat feet,” the killing, also has done the same—for now. And Satan knows that when we’re gone, he will become emboldened to come after our grandchildren with greater gusto.

    I do not believe there is a single politician on the entire Earth who understands this, who gets the Big Picture, and I regret I must include Donald Trump, who has seen farther than most, so far.

  7. Why did he give his granddaughter all of his childhood drawings?

  8. Dang! Worse than I even thought…and I’ve thought it’s been bad w/Kaiser since even before the “Obamacare Gods” came to them. I pay over $12,000 a year to Kaiser for my health coverage through my employer, who offers Kaiser exclusively. In the last 13 years…I’ve seen a Dr. by appt. maybe 5 times…once for a minor illness…and the rest for screenings like mammograms, pap, etc. I’ve done some other things through outreach…like they give flu shots at my school so I don’t have to go anywhere….and have sent in at least one poop test for colon cancer via mail. The 2-3 times I’ve had to go to “sick call” without an appointment…have been LESS THAN NOTHING in care. Tons and tons of off-the-street (mostly non-English-speakers) clogging the room….a wait of up to 5 or more hours….to be seen by a mere nurse practitioner who sent me home with NOTHING to address my problem (I had a bladder infection—if you have it—you KNOW it) and so I went home and got meds from the FEED STORE for animal treatments that I knew would cure it…How DUMB was I to NOT do this in the first place?????……FOR SURE, this is a “government run model” that we’ve “settled for” with Obamacare, and will become the long-term standard if and when Bernie or Camilla ascend to “power” and push through a uni-partison universal MEDICARE upon us all. And….my Kaiser Dr. retired last June….for which I got a letter from Kaiser….but not without assigning me a new Dr…or even giving me a LIST of available Drs. to call, investigate/whatever and CHOOSE. A BIG FAT NOTHING BURGER from Kaiser. So…what am I supposed to DO WITH ALL THAT? Arrive in an ambulance, then choose? What asses.

    • US $1000/month is outrageous: I pay C $50/month, and because I live below the poverty level for a single person of my age, I am on 50% Pharmacare for prescriptions. You should be getting at least the same degree of benefits for that much. Perhaps yours includes a hospitalisation benefit?

      • Go ahead, gloat! I pay about that and my former employer is said to pay another two-thirds to make up the difference. I’m not a fan of socialized medicine, but this is robbery, pure and simple. On top of that there is a twenty-five dollar “co-pay” for each visit and co-pays for drugs.

        Back in the 60’s when Kaiser was starting out, the Church sent packages around to neighborhoods and were offering plans that cost about $50.00/mo. that would cover all medical expenses provided in a Catholic hospital. I thought that was a good deal.

        In today’s money for say $200/mo. I’ll bet they could still do that. That would pay for everything. Kaiser got their big boost from Ronny Ray-Gun. I’m not a fan. I was not please when they bought out my old insurance company. I note that there are few where I live that I think offer any better plans and they are just as expensive.

        What is happening here is “reverse” market forces. They have a trust. They are deliberately holding their prices up there to profit off of other’s misery. It would be different if they were selling Teslas or something. I can do without a Tesla.

  9. This reminds me of the old Woody Allen movie from the 1970’s ” Sleeper” where he went to a confessional to confess to a robot, his dog was a robot, and you received an orgasm by stepping into the Orgasmitron instead of with another human being. We’re there I guess; robot doctors, plastic sex dolls and robot pets.
    The confessionals won’t be far behind. Last time I went into a Catholic Church they had fake ” candles” that you tapped on the top of a plastic dome and a light bulb came on.

    • We still have the kind you light with a match. I think the “Orgasmatron” is down the street at the Methodist’s.

      • Lop, it’s comments like this one that keep me coming back. You are the MAN.


      • You lucky that you still can light a real candle???!!!

        Yeah I stay away from the Methodists. Orgasmatrons and bisexual pastors dressed up like Crusty the Clown make for just too much excitement on Sundays

  10. Wow!


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