In telling man he would soon die, technology overwhelms humanity

The world of medicine is still trying to figure out how to incorporate the wonders of technology with the need and importance of human interaction and comfort.

It’s still got a way to go, if the story of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont, Calif., is any indication.

They use technology and video conference there, which works pretty well most of the time, according to reports.

Where it fails, according to one family, is when technology overwhelms the humanity.

Annalisia Wilharm was in the room when the “robot” — as she called it — with a video screen, and a nurse who stayed silent came into her grandfather’s room last Monday night, CNN reports.

Appearing on the video screen, a doctor, whom Wilharm did not recognize, told Ernest Quintana, 78, he was likely never going home.

For the record, the doctor nailed the prognosis. Quintana died the next day.

“I just figured it was routine,” Ms. Wilharm tells the New York Times. “I didn’t think he’d get his death sentence here.”

“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,” a hospital spokesperson said, saying ‘robot’ is not an accurate term in this case. “It allows a small hospital to have additional specialists such as a board-certified critical care physician available 24/7, enhancing the care provided and bringing additional consultative expertise to the bedside.

“It should have been a human,” Catherine Quintana, Ernest’s daughter, tells the Times. “It should’ve been a doctor who came up to his bedside.”

“We understand how important this is for all concerned, and regret that we fell short of the family’s expectations,” she said.

“We should all remember the power of touch — simple human contact — can communicate caring better than words,” said American Medical Association president Dr. Barbara McAneny.