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Would you trust a robot for a medical exam?

Being a doctor is a difficult job. Even the best physicians make mistakes, which is why medical malpractice insurance exists for things like negligence or misdiagnosis. Humans make mistakes, but these mistakes can cause injury and even death.

While we know that humans are imperfect, how would you feel if the nurse called you into the exam room and said, “The robot will see you now.” Yes, that’s right. Some clinics in the United States have begun using unsupervised artificial intelligence to examine patients.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared an artificial intelligence system that can identify warning signs of diabetic retinopathy for clinic use in 2018. The machine’s purpose is to help patients identify signs before symptoms surface with better-than-human accuracy. Patients in one clinic didn’t seem to mind using the robot for their exam, either.

Who becomes liable for mishaps?

While this sort of autonomy can increase efficiency and provide early detection, questions about liability will undoubtedly arise. One ophthalmologist stated that the robot was even more accurate than him, but what happens if there is a misdiagnosis? After all, misdiagnoses are a common reason for medical malpractice claims.

Because it’s a machine, the question may become whether an overseeing physician or clinic is liable for the error. After all, you cannot bring forth a lawsuit against artificial intelligence.

Innovation is good and can enhance our lives in many ways. It’s likely use of artificial intelligence in healthcare clinics will continue to grow and the law will need to grow with this expansion in order to protect patients from possible harm.

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