Doctor Told California Man He Was Dying Via Robot Video-Call

San Francisco (CBS) — 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 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.

“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 purpose and function of the technology,” the hospital said in a statement to CBS San Francisco.

To read the full CBS News article, click here.

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