California man learns he’s dying from doctor on video shown on robot

Henrietta Brewer
March 12, 2019

"This guy can not breathe, and he's got this robot trying to talk to him", she said. However, when the nurse told them in the intensive care unit that the doctor was going to make his rounds, they did not expect a "robot" to roll into his room.

Mr Quintana's daughter, Catherine, told KTVU that the family was further upset because her father had trouble hearing the doctor through the speakers, forcing Ms Wilharm to relay the awful news. When the question of hospice care came up, the doctor shared a grim outlook: "I don't know if he's going to get home".

"I think they should have had more dignity and treated him better than they did", Wilharm told CNN.


Ernest Quintana was informed he had just days to live by a doctor who appeared on the robot's videoscreen.

But Annalisia Wilharm said she never expected a doctor would deliver the bad news about her grandfather via a video screen on a robot. "I said, 'Do you want the morphine?' He looked at me like, 'What choice do I have?'" When the family returned to the hospital, they were furious that Quintana was told via video conference that he did not have long to live.

The next day, Ernest Quintana passed away. His family is upset with how the situation was handled.


Kaiser Permanente Senior Vice-President Michelle Gaskill-Hames issued a statement following the passing of Mr. Quintana nearly a week later. But she says she received no notice that it was part of hospital policy.

"The evening video tele-visit was a follow-up to earlier physician visits", she added.

"It does not, and did not, replace ongoing in-person evaluations and conversations with a patient and family members", the center said. 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".


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. "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 goal and function of the technology. It felt like someone took the air out of me", she said.

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