San Francisco Nurses March to Oppose Hospitals’ Use of Unproven AI That Might Harm Patients

By Trisha Andrada

Apr 23, 2024 04:14 AM EDT

Kaiser San Francisco Medical Center
In an aerial view, a sign is posted on the exterior of the Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center on September 08, 2023 in Vallejo, California.
(Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Over a hundred nurses from Northern California demonstrated outside Kaiser San Francisco Medical Center on Monday, April 22, claiming that the hospital is using unproven artificial intelligence (AI) that may harm their patients.

 California Nurses Association (CNA) members who work as registered nurses for Kaiser are expressing concerns that the healthcare organization is moving quickly to adopt AI technology without adequately informing nurses about its purpose or any potential advantages to patients or employees. However, the union said this problem is not exclusive to Kaiser.

San Francisco Chronicle reported that nurses carried placards reading "Patients are not algorithms" and "Trust Nurses, not AI," as they marched along Geary Boulevard. They also chanted, "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, AI has got to go."

Nurses Are Concerned About Hospitals Employing AI

Many nurses reportedly worry about hospitals using Epic, a popular electronic health system. During their shift, nurses record the care they provide each patient in the system. Based on this data, the system determines the degree of care each patient requires from the nurses on the next shift.

According to nurses, the system frequently produces insufficient staffing levels for the next shift to meet patient care needs. This is because the system fails to consider the delicate and time-consuming tasks that nurses perform, such as preparing chemo treatments in advance or spending time educating family members about their care.

Nurses claim that under the old system, they had a greater say in setting that standard of care.

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Nurses Want to Take Part in Tech Development

Amy Grewal, a registered nurse specializing in inpatient cancer treatment at Kaiser Fresno, said: "We are the providers at the bedside, we know how to take care of patients best. No algorithm can tell us."

The union said that nurses favor technology that improves their abilities and patients' quality of care. However, they observed that hospitals are seeing the devaluation of nursing practice as a result of this questionable technology.

"We demand that workers and unions be involved at every step of the development of data-driven technologies and be empowered to decide whether and how AI is deployed in the workplace," said CNA President Michelle Gutierrez Vo, a registered nurse at Kaiser Fremont.

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