Replacing Nurses With Robots
It's finally happened! They've replaced you with a machine. Well, not exactly replaced, but researchers have developed a "robotic nurse" at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
As a nurse, if you were to create a robot to perform part of your job, what would you have it do? Are there tasks you do that do not require critical thinking beyond what can be programmed into a computer? And what about compassion?
The task the researchers highlighted with their robot nurse, Cody, was a sponge bath.
Let's picture this. I'm critically ill, unable to get out of bed. I am scared, tired and lonely. What would make me feel cared for and safe more than mechanical washing?
In the blog Technology Review, Kristina Grifantini writes that a sponge bath "can be an awkward social situation and make a patient feel uncomfortable." Sure, with a robot there are no gender issues. I don't have to be embarrassed by my condition in front of a mechanical caregiver. But I think I would also feel - non-human.
Maybe it just takes some getting used to, but if I am ever sick enough to need a sponge bath, I will take the warm grasp of a human hand, the comforting gaze of human eyes, and the careful thoughts of an intelligent professional who is assessing my condition while assuring me that I am, in fact, cared for - and human.
I'm not against robots in general, and there probably is a place for them on a nursing unit. Perhaps dispensing medications to assure the right dose is given and that there are no contraindications with other treatments; maybe taking care of all that documentation.
If you had a robot on your nursing unit, what would you want it to do?