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ORIGINAL ARTICLES
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 160-167

Emerging ethical dilemmas in the use of intelligent computer programs in decision-making in health care: an exploratory study


1 Department of Physiology, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Deralakatte, Mangalore 575018, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Centre for Ethics and Forensic Medicine, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Deralakatte, Mangalore 575018, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Padmini Thalanjeri
Department of Physiology, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Deralakatte, Mangalore 575018, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/mgmj.mgmj_34_22

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Background: Medical professionals are under tremendous stress due to various occupational stressors, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) geared toward patient care might look like a preferable solution in alleviating some amount of stress. Hence, the study assessed the level of awareness and perception of the ethical dilemmas of health professionals on intelligent computer programs in independent healthcare decision-making. Materials and Methods: The present study is a cross-sectional, non-interventional, and questionnaire-based descriptive study. This study was done in a Deemed to be University Hospital, Karnataka, India. Of the total 96 participants, 30 were medical participants, 36 were dentists, and 30 were nurses. A pretested and validated questionnaire was used to collect the participants’ responses. Results: Medical and nursing participants opined that intelligent computer programs can take both major and minor independent decisions in inpatient care when the physician is unavailable. The majority of the participants felt that in the decisions made by the intelligent computer programs, patients’ rights and wishes might not be respected, compromising autonomy. The majority agreed that computer-assisted information extraction helps in better treatment of patients causing beneficence. Medical and dental participants thought that intelligent computer programs cannot communicate well with patients, do not have a conscience, and can be hacked causing maleficence. Participants opined that the use of intelligent computer programs could serve justice in the form of equity and equality in health care. Conclusion: Breach of patient autonomy due to data mining, loss of confidentiality, and disrespect for patients’ rights and wishes are major concerns when AI takes independent decisions in health care. One of the most desirable outcomes of AI in health care could be an increase in equity and equality of the reach in health care to the rural population.


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