Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a buzzword in the healthcare industry due to its potential to revolutionize patient care, diagnosis, and treatment.
However, integrating AI into the medical field can also pose serious dangers, ranging from ethical concerns to technical limitations to actual errors in diagnosis and treatment.
The Dangers of Medical Artificial Intelligence
A recent NPR report on proposed uses of AI in the medical field compares the dangers and benefits.
From our perspective as medical malpractice attorneys, technical limitations strike us as the foremost danger associated with AI in the medical field. AI algorithms require vast amounts of data to be effective, and the quality of the data can significantly impact the accuracy of the algorithm.
Additionally, AI algorithms can only work within the scope of the data they have been trained on, making them less effective in identifying rare or unusual conditions. Furthermore, AI algorithms can only provide recommendations based on the data available to them, and they cannot account for variables that may be unique to each patient.
We understand that these limitations are immediately visible during the early stages of AI development; however, our concern is that there are certain situations in which the very nature of medicine generated from algorithms is only approximating or in some way imitating medicine as it would be practiced by an actual human doctor.
The NPR article recounts some of the problems with what, at this early stage, seems to be the nature of chatbots. “They can make up sources, get things wrong and behave erratically.” In fact, his team’s early experiments with ChatGPT produced some strange results.
“When a fake patient told the chatbot it was depressed, the AI suggested “recycling electronics” as a way to cheer up.”
What might seem a strange and even humorous suggestion that, if offered by a human doctor, might lead one to question his sanity, illustrates how a less odd, but equally questionable, suggestion might slip past a real doctor or patient and actually be implemented, perhaps leading to tragic consequences.
Perhaps the most concerning danger of AI in the medical field is the potential for the technology to eventually be used to replace human healthcare providers.
While AI has the potential to augment healthcare providers’ abilities, such as in diagnosing rare diseases or identifying patterns in patient data, it should not, especially in its early stages, be used as a substitute for human care. Patients rely on the empathy and personal touch of their healthcare providers, and relying solely on AI risks eroding the human element of care.
Another concern of introducing AI into the medical field is the potential for biased algorithms. AI algorithms are only as unbiased as the data used to train them. If the data used to train an AI algorithm is biased, the algorithm will reflect that bias, leading to inaccurate diagnoses or treatment recommendations.
Biases can occur in various ways, such as if the data used to train the algorithm represents only a certain population or if there is a lack of diversity in the team developing the algorithm. These biases can lead to misdiagnosis or even harm to patients.
Another danger of AI in the medical field is the potential for loss of privacy. AI algorithms rely on vast amounts of data, and the use of patient data raises concerns about privacy and security. This data can include highly sensitive information, such as medical histories, social security numbers, and other personal identifying information. As AI is integrated into the healthcare system, it is important to ensure that the proper security measures are in place to prevent unauthorized access to this data.
Integrating AI into the medical field has the potential to revolutionize patient care and treatment, but it also poses significant dangers. Biased algorithms, loss of privacy, technical limitations, and the potential to replace human healthcare providers are all concerns that need to be addressed before AI can be fully integrated into the healthcare system.
It is crucial to approach the integration of AI with caution and ensure that proper measures are in place to safeguard patients’ well-being and privacy.
AI in medicine is almost certainly in our future and we only hope that those who are training it and inviting it into our modern healthcare system apply it judiciously.
AI in all its forms from self-driving cars to chatbots are being designed to replace human judgement by integrating learning algorithms into machines.
The question that always shows up in conversations about artificial intelligence in medicine or any other field that until now has required sober judgement by highly trained humans, is essentially what is the difference between human and machine motives, understanding and decision making?
As medical malpractice lawyers we know all too well that even the best medical professionals have their limitations and faults. Replacing these healthcare professionals or even augmenting them with AI in healthcare can serve as a tool in clinical settings to empower human doctors with access to clinical decision support, vast volumes of data and information to support them in their efforts to heal.
However, we also know that in efforts to streamline medical care and increase profits, digital health tools might in some cases be seen as short cuts or methods to improve the bottom line possibly leaving patients to pay the price in terms of less than optimal outcomes.
Introducing Medical Malpractice Law into the Algorithm
It’s important to be vigilant as new techniques and approaches are introduced into the medical field. It’s important that attorneys like Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, P.C. exist and are always keeping up with changes and new trends in medicine so that when things go wrong, we can fight to force corrections.
If you’ve been harmed by the healthcare system and you’re in need of a medical injury attorney, give Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, PC a call at: (618) 236-2221