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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Thinking about the Laws of Voice

Note that this article points to an interesting book on the topic.  Have not read, but plan to.

Voice Assistants in Pre and Post-Operative Care and the Duty to Warn Patients of Remote Risks – A Legal Discussion       By Eric Hal Schwartz

This guest post is an edited extract from Voice Technology in Healthcare, Chapter 14, The Laws of Voice, by Bianca Phillips, an officer of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia and Heather B. Deixler, a senior associate at Latham & Watkins LLP.

Voice assistants will increasingly provide patients with pre- and post-surgery information. The information may be of a general nature, or the skill could be more personalized. If a potential risk of surgery is so remote that it is rarely seen in practice, and only appears in archaic medical literature, does the voice assistant need to advise of that risk?

Imagine the following hypothetical scenario. A patient, Stacey, is about to undergo cataract surgery. In the pre-op appointment, Stacey’s surgeon highlights the risks of surgery and, in her concluding remarks, advises Stacey that “you may also consult your voice assistant to learn more about your surgery, and ask questions about the risks and post-op process.”

That evening Stacey goes home and says to her voice assistant (VA) “[VA name], what are the risks of cataract surgery?” The VA responds “the risks of cataract surgery include: Posterior capsule opacity (PCO), Intraocular lens dislocation, Eye inflammation, Light sensitivity, Photopsia (perceived flashes of light), Macular edema (swelling of the central retina), Ptosis (droopy eyelid) and Ocular hypertension (elevated eye pressure).” Stacey continues to ask a range of questions about post-operative care and the recovery process.

Surgery seems to have gone well. However, two months after the surgery Stacey advises her doctor of considerably decreased vision in her left eye, which the surgeon determines is sympathetic ophthalmia. The estimated post-operative occurrence is between 0.01%–0.05%. Attempts to treat the sympathetic ophthalmia fail and the patient sustains a permanent loss of vision in her left eye. The surgeon failed to inform Stacey of the risk of sympathetic ophthalmia during the pre-op consultation, and Stacey’s VA also did not inform her of this risk. Stacey wants to know whether the surgeon and/or the VA had a duty to inform her of the remote risk. .... " 

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