News  |  ,   |  March 9, 2020

Can you sue an algorithm for malpractice? It depends

News article by Saurabh Jha.
Published in Stat News.


The rapid entry of artificial intelligence is stretching the boundaries of medicine. It will also test the limits of the law.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in health care to flag abnormalities in head CT scans, cull actionable information from electronic health records, and help patients understand their symptoms. At some point, AI is bound to make a mistake that harms a patient. When that happens, who — or what — is liable?

I’ll use radiology to answer this question, because many believe AI will have the largest impact there and some even believe that AI will replace radiologists. Here’s a hypothetical situation to illustrate some of the legal uncertainties: Innovative Care Hospital, an early adopter of technology, decides to use AI instead of radiologists to interpret chest x-ray images as a way to reduce labor costs and increase efficiency. Its AI performs well, but for unknown reasons misses an obvious pneumonia and the patient dies from septic shock.

Who’ll get sued? The answer is, “It depends.” [ . . . ]