A man was given a terminal diagnosis at a California hospital’s ICU via a “robot” through which he had a video conference with the doctor. His family is upset with how the situation was handled.

Terminal Diagnosis

Ernest Quintana is a 78-year-old man with chronic lung disease, and his family was aware that he might die when he was taken to the hospital via an ambulance because he couldn’t breathe. 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.

It was through the video call that the doctor told Quintana that he only had days to live. According to Quintana’s granddaughter, Annalisia Wilharm, who was alone with Quintana when the machine rolled into the room, she had to repeat to her grandfather what the doctor was saying because he had hearing difficulties in his right ear, and the machine was unable to go to the other side of the bed.

Quintana died two days after being taken to the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center.


Quintana’s family is quite upset with how the news was broken to him, saying that he deserved better than that. A family friend, Julianne Spangler, even posted a photo of the machine, saying that it was not the way to show value and compassion to a patient.

In response, the senior vice president for Kaiser Permanente in south Alameda County, Michelle Gaskill-Hames, said that the situation was unusual and that the facility’s officials “regret falling short” of the patient and his family’s expectations.

However, she also defended the use of the technology, stating that telemedicine does not replace in-person conversations with patients, and that the technology allows the facility to have more specialists to help with patient care.

That said, Gaskill-Hames says that they will use this situation as an opportunity to improve patients’ experience with telemedicine.

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