Can Robots Transform Hospital Safety?
Robots are being used in healthcare settings to prevent pharmacy mistakes, assist with surgery and to diagnose illnesses. In many cases, robots perform these tasks more accurately than human beings. It seems possible robots can make hospitals safer. Read on to learn more about how robots or artificial intelligence have been used to prevent medical mistakes.
How Can Robots Be Used to Prevent Medical Mistakes?
Pharmabots: A robotic pharmacist used at the University of San Francisco Medical Center has filled millions of prescriptions. As of mid-2015, the only error it has made was caused by human interference. The machine works by reading directions provide by hospital staff. Doctors write an electronic prescription, and robotic arms move to the proper shelves and fill the medications.
Robot surgeons: Earlier this year, an autonomous robotic surgeon bested humans at conducting soft tissue surgery. In fact, we covered this event on our blog. The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) system conducted surgery on pigs with fewer mistakes and more accuracy than human surgeons. Although it may be years before robots take over for human surgeons, it is a testament to the potential of this technology.
Artificial intelligence: The real game changer for hospital safety might be artificial intelligence. IBM’s Watson AI platform accurately diagnosed a woman with leukemia after doctors had missed the diagnosis for months. It took Watson minutes to diagnose the woman. How did it pull this off? Watson’s supercomputing abilities allowed it to cross reference the woman’s medical information with 20 million other oncological records – in a mere ten minutes.
These examples show that robots can be useful allies for doctors and helpful tools in hospitals. For now, patients are still at risk for being harmed by preventable medical mistakes. Patients harmed by medical mistakes and their family members may have legal options to hold hospitals accountable.