R2D2 is a Doctor???
What is the field of medicine coming to? One of my patients became ill with a severe stomach bug in the middle of the night while visiting her parents in rural Kentucky. After nearly passing out on her way to the bathroom, she knew she was dehydrated and needed IV fluids. Her husband drove her to the tiny 20-bed hospital near her mother's home, but instead of being examined by an emergency room doctor, this hospital only "employed" a ROBOT in the middle of the night. My patient was linked by "Skype" to a doctor in England, (it was daytime there) who obtained the history, and then a robot was wheeled in and linked up. The robot obtained her vital signs and then stuck his "hand"/metal sensor onto her chest, back, and abdomen to obtain a heart, lung, and abdomen exam. This information was transmitted to the doctor in England to interpret. The British doctor then issued back a diagnosis and treatment plan. The patient received IV fluids, a nausea medication, and was sent home.
"I thought I was completely delirious when this robot with blinking lights and mechanical arms started examining me," she said. "The technician called him 'Dr. Robbie.' When I asked if a real doctor would be coming, she informed me Dr. Robbie was the only "doctor" available until six in the morning. I couldn't believe it---a robot performing my abdominal exam? Would a robot really be able to tell a stomach bug from appendicitis? I freaked out, but what else could I do in the middle of the night, in the middle of no where?"
Amazingly, the patient received the same treatment from "Dr. Robbie" that I would have given! I'm not too worried, however, that robots will completely replace me---can you imagine having your rectal or pelvic exam performed by a robot with 8-inch long, hard metal fingers? And being emotionless, robots wouldn't care (or stop!) if you howled in pain!