Robots Make the Rounds to Ease Hospitals' Costs

  1. Parts of this article don't offend me at all.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...-2002Apr2.html

    **I'll cut and paste from the article itself:

    Pyxis Corp., the company that manufactures HelpMate robots such as TOBOR, has placed almost 100 of its robots in U.S. hospitals, including 11 in seven VA medical centers, said Brian Babbitt, general manager of the company's HelpMate Robotics division.

    "When you look at the nursing and pharmacy labor shortage, you want to keep skilled personnel with as high-level tasks as possible," Babbitt said. "You don't necessarily want people hauling things around and waiting for elevators."

    Hospitals are an environment ideally suited to robots, said Joseph F. Engelberger, a retired physicist and robotics pioneer who designed the HelpMate robot and introduced it at Connecticut's Danbury Hospital about a decade ago. Extensive testing of a prototype there helped engineers adapt the robot's behavior to cope with people's reactions.

    ** Here's where I object:

    Mobile robots have been developed that can learn their way around a building by noticing and remembering the pattern of markings on the floor or ceiling, said Takeo Kanade, a professor of computer science and robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. Some Japanese companies now use robots to deliver mail. Researchers led by Carnegie Mellon's Sebastian Thrun are field-testing the "nursebot," a talking robot that guides nursing home residents from their rooms to the dining hall or other areas -- offering weather reports and television schedules along the way -- and are working on an "intelligent walker" that can both navigate and physically support elderly patients.

    Stationary robots are already being used to do some kinds of surgery. A researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is testing a robot that performs physical therapy for stroke victims. Engelberger said he thinks it would be possible, with current technology, to build a mobile, voice-activated robot that could help a frail, elderly person get around an apartment and could perform simple household tasks.

    *** Here's what I object to. They are testing a "NURSEBOT" which talks and guides nursing home residnets, offering weather reports and TV schedules. This is a NURSEBOT???? It says that stationary robots are already doing some kinds of surgery - I really don't see anything called a SURGEONBOT or DOCBOT, do you?

    I'm sorry this post is set up weirdly, but my lovely hubby messes with MY computer and now I can't use any of the buttons that make things quotes or give them color or bold. I'm not pleased with THAT, either.

    Love

    Dennie
    Last edit by NurseDennie on Apr 8, '02
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   babs_rn
    Well, I'd like to see a CEO who thinks this is such a good idea after one of those nurse-bots helps his/her mother or father around. And with the way the nurse managers I know are constantly moving things so that nobody can find anything (in the interest of efficiency and quality control, ha!) - the poor things would just get caught up in a linen cart.

    Idiotic notion.

    Babs
  4. by   Mijourney
    Ho hum. I imagine this is just an example of things yet to come in the "brave new world."

    Babs, in the back of my mind I wonder if one of these robots may have a major glich and accidentally take my arm off while escorting or helping me. Wonder if the available skeleton crew will be able to stop it? Probably will need another code category, like code blue, for robot out of control. Sounds like sci-fi. Although there are tangible benefits to using something that does not tire, require sleep, or benefits, the outlook of the robot plan seems kind of dehumanizing to me.

    I know very little about bioengineering, but I would imagine that several of these engineers would have to be on 24 hour call if they're not already. May need them to be in the hospital around the clock. Probably means even deeper cuts in nursing and ancillary staff.
  5. by   bjpeace
    I work in one of those VA facilities! So far the traveling bot hasn't reared its head, however it is filling the pts med drawers for each unit, then a pharm tech delivers the cartridges with those drawers to each unit every am. So far I haven't seen a drop in missed meds or wrong meds in the drawers b/c its still pharmacists who are entering everything into the computer. And last I checked, we were still employing human pharmacists, but then that could change tomorrow.....I'll keep you updated.

    Just an FYI, we are also the east coast facility with the DaVinci surgery robot. Only one incident in the beginning, that I know of (apparently led to the pt having an open instead of lap choley) It seems they are trying new procedures every week with it. So far we've done Choleycystectomies, Fem-pop, mammary artery harvests, and others. One of the cardiovascular surgeons joked that he wasn't going to be happy until the day he could perform surgery from home in his boxers. I think we're far from that, but it is allowing for large procedures to be less invasive and more precise. There is an hour long show on either TLC or DHC that shows the robots abilities and limitations. If anyone is interested, you should watch that show (can't remember the name - sorry!)
  6. by   micro
    it is a brave new world we are in or either approachin'..............

    boldly goin' where no man has gone before..............

    scares me a bit......but maybe this is just me.........
  7. by   SharkLPN
    I too work at a hospital that 'employs' a Pyxis robot. Ours is used by dietary to deliver late or early meal trays to patient floors. Yep, it does get stuck in cramped hallways sometimes even though it has numerous sensors to guide it. I found it trapped in a corner once, and I assume that a frisky employee or visitor maneuvered it there. I've sure been tempted to sometimes!

    But I don't see how helpful it will be in aiding the elderly around nursing homes. What will it do when the resident gets lightheaded and starts to fall?
  8. by   mattsmom81
    I've worked in hospitals with delivery robots too...it's just another contraption that screws up and makes more work for the nurses IMO, we were always getting calls from pharmacy to 'find it', unload it, and point it back home.

    It did entertain visitors and children but as another poster pointed out, it became a toy to some so we end up having to intervene and police the situation...LOL!

    'Nursebot' bothers me too Dennie.....reduces us to a less than human condition...hope our nurse leaders object to this.
  9. by   Ted
    If I see an "R2D2" or "C3PO" looking Nurse-bot coming after me with a syringe, I'm running the heck out of that hospital!!!

    Does anyone hear the Star Wars theme? Where's the "Force" of human sense when you need it???



    Ted
  10. by   mattsmom81
    "Your Nursebot has been programmed to inject the appropriate dose of medication into your right buttock...line your right buttock up with the infrared line and await the NurseBot's approach. Do not be alarmed....your Nursebot has been programmed correctly for this procedure"

    "WARNING WARNING"...( Nursebot waving arms frantically like the 'Lost in Space' robot)

    "Incorrect buttock alignment detected...WARNING....Back away from Nursebot immediately".

    Ted, as you can tell, your post tickled my funnybone ...and I'm dating myself with the 'Lost in Space ' reference, I know....<sigh>...heheh.
  11. by   Ted
    Originally posted by mattsmom81
    "Your Nursebot has been programmed to inject the appropriate dose of medication into your right buttock...line your right buttock up with the infrared line and await the NurseBot's approach. Do not be alarmed....your Nursebot has been programmed correctly for this procedure"

    "WARNING WARNING"...( Nursebot waving arms frantically like the 'Lost in Space' robot)

    "Incorrect buttock alignment detected...WARNING....Back away from Nursebot immediately".

    ...and I'm dating myself with the 'Lost in Space ' reference, I know....<sigh>...heheh.
    I loved watching "Lost in Space"!!:chuckle

    Ted

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