Thread: Robot nurse
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Old 10-28-2006, 07:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
safetyguy
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Robot nurse

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Robots may do more mundane nursing tasks in future says expert

26/10/2006 7:17:00 PM
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EDMONTON (CP) - Robots will soon pass scalpels to surgeons, retrieve blood from hospital blood banks and even answer the phones at busy unit desks - all so that nurses can spend more time with patients.

A researcher examining the future of nursing says breakthroughs in robotics could completely revamp the delivery of health care.
And nurses must have a say on this Brave New World of technology, said Michael Villeneuve, a researcher with the Ottawa-based Canadian Nurses Association.
"If we aren't going to shape our practice in a different way, other people are shaping it for us," Villeneuve told delegates at the United Nurses of Alberta convention Thursday.
Villeneuve warned that such changes are already on the profession's doorstep.
A surgeon in New York has developed a robotic surgical nurse he calls Penelope, Villeneuve said, who will pass him the correct surgical instruments and then record whether it's placed back on the tray to avoid implements being left in a patient's body after surgery.
The surgeon invented the robot to improve safety and to address a growing shortage of surgical nurses.
Villeneuve is part of a team at the Canadian Nurses Association that has written a study on what nursing will be like in 2020.
The study estimates that Canada will be short at least 18,000 nurses by 2009. By 2020, the majority of nurses will be over 50-years-old.
Last year, Canadian nurses put in enough overtime to fill 10,000 full time jobs - the highest rate of overtime for any occupational group, the study concluded.
As urban populations swell, and new diseases sweep the globe, nurses will struggle to meet the demands placed on them, Villeneuve said.
He pointed to some of the robotic innovations being created in Japan as a possible solution.
As Japan struggles to cope with a large population of seniors in nursing homes, companies are developing robots that can lift patients off beds and fully automated washing machines that can bathe patients and get them in and out of the bath.
Robots have been designed that can scan bodies for bandage placement and send the images back to a doctor who can operate the robots from a remote location, Villeneuve pointed out.
Then there's a humanoid-looking robot called Actroid - again developed by a Japanese company - that understands 40,000 phrases in Japanese and is designed to greet customers at information booths and dispense everything from instructions to directions.
"In a profession where nurses tell us they stop their care six times, or however many it's been measured, to answer the phone, the technology exists. Why shouldn't she answer the phone?" Villeneuve asked.
Embracing technology that streamlines nursing jobs will also help in recruiting young nurses, especially if it cuts down on mundane and unpleasant tasks.
"How do we create work that is interesting enough that that generation wants to wipe bums at 3 o'clock in the morning?" he joked.
"I think that there's a whole lot we could do with robots, but I don't want them wiping my bum," laughed UNA president Heather Smith.
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