There’s no easy way for doctors to tell patients they’re going to die, but some ways are better than others. At the very least, I’m sure that you’d prefer a doctor take the time to meet with you in person, explain your condition, and answer your questions.
So, you can probably imagine what Ernest Quintana must have felt when he received bad news about his health. He was in his hospital bed anxiously awaiting his diagnosis when the door opened. But, instead of his doctor, a machine rolled into the room. Then a live video appeared of a random doctor Ernest had never met and who may or may not have been in the building. He told Ernest there were no more treatment options available for him. He was going to die.
When the Quintana family complained about the impersonal treatment, a hospital spokeswoman said that they continually seek ways to integrate technology and patient care. I’m sure that’s true, but this story illustrates how easily technology can become more important than the people it’s intended to serve.
Our bodies are wondrous machines, but human beings are not robots. We can’t be reduced to circuit boards and computer code. When a loved one dies, we don’t grieve because a chemical factory has shut down, but because the essence of the person we love is gone.
As technology continues its relentless march forward into our lives, it’s up to all of us to use it in a way that enriches our humanity, not devalues it.
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