Is AI killing people?

A robotic device burned and tore a woman’s small intestine while she was undergoing surgery for colon cancer, according to a wrongful death lawsuit.

As technology advances and AI grows in healthcare in particular, questions are being raised about the future quality of healthcare and the role government entities will play in it. With the rapid advancement of technology and the increasing integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, there are growing concerns and questions about the future quality of healthcare services. These concerns also extend to the role that government entities will play in overseeing and regulating the use of such technologies in the healthcare sector, highlighting the need for comprehensive strategies to address potential challenges and ensure the benefits of AI are harnessed to improve patient care while safeguarding against potential risks.

“The American public needs to be proactive in calling their senators and demanding strict regulations around AI in healthcare settings where patient’s lives can be impacted,” says DoorSpace CEO Sarah M. Worthy.

The reality is people are putting profits over people, including in healthcare. This sentiment is echoed by healthcare professionals and patient advocacy groups alike, who argue that the relentless pursuit of profit, especially in the context of integrating AI into healthcare, risks undermining the foundational principles of medical ethics and patient care. The debate is not just about the immediate consequences of unregulated AI deployment but also about the long-term implications for trust in the healthcare system. When profit motives drive the development and application of AI without adequate oversight, there is a real danger that these technologies could lead to misdiagnoses, privacy breaches, and a widening gap in healthcare equity. Such outcomes could erode public confidence in healthcare providers and the technologies they employ, potentially leading to a scenario where the very tools designed to enhance patient care contribute instead to its decline.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that a balanced approach is necessary—one that recognizes the potential of AI to transform healthcare positively but also acknowledges the risks associated with its unchecked use. Legislation and regulation must evolve in tandem with technological advancements to close loopholes that allow for ethical lapses and prioritize profit over patient safety. Moreover, there’s a critical need for a dialogue among all stakeholders—healthcare providers, patients, tech companies, and policymakers—to establish a common ground that upholds the integrity of healthcare services. The future of AI in healthcare hinges not only on technological innovation but also on ethical stewardship, ensuring that the march towards progress does not leave behind the core values of compassion, equity, and respect for human dignity.

“While I sympathize with these businesses who are concerned with the higher costs involved with strict regulations from the FDA, I find it reprehensible that any executive would push to put short term profits ahead of their customers’ very lives and well being. And when these executives spend millions of dollars on lawyers and lobbyists to fight FDA regulation of their AI products, that’s precisely what they’re doing: putting profits before people.” 

The future role of AI is still uncertain in the healthcare industry, but action will be needed.

AI is truly a game changer and I am excited about the capabilities AI adds in so many industries, but it is still early and very problematic. We know it has bugs and design flaws that cause real harm in healthcare settings. We should be cautious and hold AI companies to the same rigorous standards we hold medical devices and pharmaceutical drug companies to.”

Given the transformative potential of AI across various industries, including healthcare, it’s crucial to approach its integration with a heightened level of caution. AI, while promising, is still in its nascent stages and has been identified as having significant bugs and design flaws that can lead to adverse outcomes in healthcare environments. This reality necessitates a more conservative approach, advocating for AI technologies to undergo the same level of rigorous scrutiny and regulatory oversight traditionally reserved for medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Such an approach is paramount to ensuring that AI applications do not inadvertently harm patients due to unforeseen technical issues or ethical oversights. Rigorous testing, continuous monitoring for safety and efficacy, and a transparent process for reporting and addressing potential harms are essential components of a framework designed to safely harness the benefits of AI. This careful, deliberate approach will help safeguard patient welfare while allowing healthcare providers to navigate the complex ethical and practical challenges presented by the integration of AI into medical practice.