Long time readers know of my intense
obsession dislike of equivocating nurses/nursing with robots, and here is a classic example. Somewhere, somehow, some engineer is just not getting what triage nurses do:
If a group of computer engineers gets their way, we will no longer hear stories of patients dying in the ER after excruciatingly long waits. A solution for overburdened triage staff and long emergency room wait times appears to be in sight.
If you’re willing to wait five years, robots could help speed the ER triage process, according to Mitch Wilkes, associate director of the Center for Intelligent Systems and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Vanderbilt University. He is the lead author of a paper presented yesterday at the Humanoids 2010 conference held in Nashville.
The paper describes an ER that would feature electronic kiosks (like those at the airport) at the registration desk and smart chairs. A mobile robot or two might monitor patients in the waiting room.
After I finished laughing a little too gleefully at the thought of patients screaming at a triage robot, it seemed to me there is some, um, misunderstanding about a nurse’s role at triage, which decidedly is not about taking the patient’s temperature and sending her out to the waiting room. And if patients are demanding more face time with a health care professional, installing robots seems, well, a little counter-intuitive.
Here’s a thought on how to relieve “overburdened triage staff”: instead of spending a gazillion dollars developing and setting up the technology, then a gazillion more for ongoing upgrades and maintenance (for you know these things will break down when someone looks at them cross-wise), why not just adequately staff emergency departments with real, live nurses?
Naw. Too simple.