Could AI Cause Medical Errors? | Belt, Bruner & Barnett P.C.

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Could AI Cause Medical Errors?

Aug 07, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

In some professions, mistakes are common and even encouraged as a learning experience. The medical industry isn’t one of them. Errors in the healthcare field can lead to catastrophic injuries, illnesses, and even death for patients.

With artificial intelligence (AI) being a hot topic, many question its potential use in medicine. AI may reduce the frequency of human errors in healthcare professions. However, that doesn’t mean AI won’t make its own mistakes.

How Is AI Used in Medicine?

Nearly every industry has implemented some level of AI to help promote efficiency. However, since AI technology is not always accurate or objective, these applications will unlikely replace human workers entirely.

Actual healthcare providers should carefully monitor AI equipment for it to be most effective. Currently, AI in the medical industry has the capability to help:

  • Diagnose medical conditions
  • Develop prescription medications
  • Monitor patients
  • Cross-check for drug interactions
  • Predict the development of medical conditions
  • Detect dislocations, soft tissue problems, and hidden fractures
  • Establish a prognosis for severe medical conditions, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Identify and diagnose certain types of cancers
  • Conduct in-depth medical research promptly
  • Interpret diagnostic test results, such as chest X-rays
  • Analyze existing online medical journals

What Happens When AI Makes Errors?

When artificial intelligence makes mistakes, people can suffer debilitating injuries, illnesses, and even death. While AI can go a long way in improving patient health, there are also substantial practical risks of AI.

First, it is essential to consider how AI algorithms work. They identify patterns and use pattern recognition to flag findings that may be abnormal. However, when AI algorithms misinterpret these patterns, they can misdiagnose medical conditions and cause inaccurate imaging results. If healthcare providers rely on AI technology alone, patients may go untreated, be misdiagnosed, or undergo unnecessary medical interventions, such as pharmaceutical treatment or surgery.

Artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry can also introduce additional problems not typically seen with human healthcare providers. For example, physicians often err on the side of caution when analyzing images, diagnostic test results, and patient symptoms. However, with AI, they may not be programmed to return results in the same way.

Ethical Concerns With AI

Data privacy issues are already a severe cause for concern across multiple industries. However, in the healthcare industry, patient records should always be confidential. Any time healthcare systems share patient data with AI developers, this may violate a patient’s privacy.

AI systems are also developed with the programmer’s inequality and bias in mind. This means specific demographics could go underrepresented in AI data and continue to face distinct challenges as a result.

For example, suppose Black patients are generally prescribed painkillers less often than white patients. An AI system’s algorithm could then lead to a Black patient being prescribed a much lower dose of painkillers than a white individual who experiences less pain.

Who Is Liable for AI Medical Errors?

When AI technology makes mistakes that cause people substantial injury, illness, or death, victims are not without legal options. Multiple parties could share liability for the mistakes made by AI tech. For example, radiologists can be held accountable if they fail to catch an imaging error made by AI equipment. They can also be held responsible if they noted a disagreement with the AI findings but failed to make reports or take action.

Physicians, doctor’s offices, and hospitals can also be held accountable if they fail to evaluate AI recommendations and findings. When AI fails to meet the healthcare standard of care, the facilities and providers that use them are ultimately responsible when treatment or lack thereof is inappropriate, incorrect, or unnecessary.

Additionally, the manufacturers of AI systems and technology can also be held accountable for victims of these mistakes, particularly if there is an inherent design flaw, the manufacturer failed to warn healthcare providers of the risks, or the manufacturer made an error in developing the AI tech equipment or devices.

You can rely on your medical malpractice attorney to thoroughly investigate the cause of your medical condition and injuries. In many types of AI-involved medical malpractice claims, AI developers, programmers, physicians, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other parties are found to share liability for the victim’s damages. Although this may make your case more complicated, it also gives you an opportunity to recover maximum compensation when you need it most.

Call a Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Help Today

AI technology is innovative and has transformed the healthcare industry. But technology of any kind is imperfect. AI can make mistakes, and when it does, those responsible for the use and manufacture of this equipment can be held accountable.

If you’ve suffered severe injuries or illness due to an AI mistake, a medical malpractice attorney at Belt, Bruner & Barnett P.C. can help. Contact our team for a free consultation today and explore your legal options further. Please fill out our online contact form or call our office at (205) 933-1500 to learn more about how you can fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.