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How AI impacts the duty of care standard

Medical errors are thought to be the third-leading cause of death in the United States. However, advances in medical technology may help patients in New York and elsewhere receive care without inadvertently being put in harm's way. Technologies being studied today have shown the ability to diagnose heart attacks, lung cancer and skin cancer using artificial intelligence. Of course, it is also possible that a machine will make an error when diagnosing a patient.

In such a scenario, it might be difficult to determine whether a person or a program is liable for the error. The reason why parties are held liable for their actions is to discourage them from making mistakes. Machines are considered to be diagnostic tools that assist a human in making a decision as opposed to working on their own to help patients.

Therefore, the doctor who diagnoses a patient or takes other action based on data from an AI source could be liable for errors. However, this assumes that a human did something wrong. If the program was designed improperly or was otherwise responsible for an error in a doctor's judgment, whoever created the machine may be liable. Since AI is not the standard of care, it won't be held directly liable for any incorrect or misleading information it provides.

Patients who are harmed by medical errors might decide to take legal action against medical providers. Doctors, hospitals and insurance companies may be held liable for harm a patient experiences. Compensation may be available for medical bills incurred, lost wages or other damages incurred because of a misdiagnosis or because of an error during a procedure. If a patient dies, that person's family may have standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

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