When Computers Replace Doctors

Posted on Sep 07, 2017

 

 

If you have ever had an MRI, CT scan, or an Xray you know the vital role that these images play in your recovery from an injury or an illness. The interpretation of these images can and will help determine the focus and next steps of your treatment.

What happens when the interpretation of these images is left to the devices of a machine?

Yes, that is right. The practice of radiology is potentially moving into the hands of computer-generated analysis and radiologists are worrying that they could lose their jobs, according to this article from NPR. 

In the fields of medical malpractice and personal injury, we often see preventable mistakes that happen as a result of someone's negligence. It could be something as simple as failing to follow established rules or failing to follow a procedural checklist. For example in this case; the hospital did not have a system for making sure the radiology results were read and interpreted.

However, leaving the interpretation of critical images to pre-programmed algorithms leaves its own set of concerns.

Proponents of artifical intelligence say that "computers are awfully good at seeing patterns." Other benefits could include a lowering of expenses typically associated with these types of cost-heavy tests. Some of what makes them so expensive is the high salary of the typical radiologist, which could be about twice what a family doctor makes. Also, with such a high volume of images that each radiologist has to assess on a daily basis, artifical intelligence could make the practice of medicine more efficient in this area.

Some say that artifical intelligence and human personnel should work together to achieve more efficient results.

But, in some circumstances, efficiency is not always the best way. For example, with your medical care.

The article didn't provide the statistics on the reliability of such algorithms but suffice it to say that if the programming fails to catch certain diseases like cancer, we could be looking at more preventable medical mistakes with dire consequences. 

While we are never happy to see a preventable medical mistake occur, and we hold hospitals, HMOs and doctors accountable when they violate or ignore pateint safety rules that make up the standard of care in medicine.  If medical malpractice resulted in life-altering injuries, harms and losses to someone in your family, call us to talk about what you should do next at 202-393-3320. You will speak to a live person today for no cost and no obligation.