A new algorithm has been developed which can ease critically ill patients' final days, writes Joseph Bennington-Castro in NBC News.
Scientists have developed a new medical application capable of predicting when a seriously ill patient will likely die.
Research shows that less than half of the 8% of hospital admissions who need palliative care actually receive it, says Kenneth Jung, a research scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine who helped develop the new algorithm. This can have terrible consequences if the patient's health suddenly plummets, causing some people to spend their final days receiving aggressive treatments to extend life a few weeks when they'd rather spend that time with family.
Studies have shown that approximately 80 percent of Americans say they would prefer to die at home, but 60 percent die in acute care hospitals, according to Stanford.
The new algorithm can predict if a hospital inpatient will die within 3 to 12 months (a window during which palliative care is thought to be most useful) with over 90% accuracy. Health records of all hospital admissions could be screened by the Artificial Intelligence (AI), which would then flag palliative care teams about patients who may be near death. In effect, the AI would help ensure that most severely ill patients are as comfortable as possible in their final months and receive the care that best reflects their preferences.
Research suggests doctors do routinely fail to refer patients for palliative care because they make inaccurate — and often overly optimistic — prognoses. Clinicians sometimes don't refer their patients to these specialists because they believe their patients are better off than they really are. Some clinicians don't refer because they don't want their patients to give up.
"It's not about replacing a doctor's judgment, ever," Jung says. "This really is about providing extra care."
Read full report here: https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/ai-can-predict-when-we-ll-die-here-s-why-ncna844276