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Potential jurors favor use of artificial intelligence in precision medicine

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Physicians who follow artificial intelligence (AI) advice may be considered less liable for medical malpractice than is commonly thought, according to a new study of potential jury candidates in the U.S. Published in the January issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine (JNM). The study provides the first data related to physicians’ potential liability for using AI in personalized medicine, which can often deviate from standard care.

“New AI tools can assist physicians in and diagnostics, including the interpretation of medical images,” remarked Kevin Tobia, JD, Ph.D., assistant professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center, in Washington D.C. “But if physicians rely on AI tools and things go wrong, how likely is a juror to find them legally liable? Many such cases would never reach a jury, but for one that did, the answer depends on the views and testimony of medical experts and the decision making of lay juries. Our study is the first to focus on that last aspect, studying potential jurors’ attitudes about physicians who use AI.”

To determine potential jurors’ judgments of liability, researchers conducted an online study of a representative sample of 2,000 adults in the U.S. Each participant read one of four scenarios in which an AI system provided a drug dosage treatment to a physician. The scenarios varied the AI recommendation (standard or nonstandard drug dosage) and the physician’s decision (to accept or reject the AI recommendation). In all scenarios, the physician’s decision subsequently caused harm to the patient.

Study participants then evaluated the physician’s decision by assessing whether the treatment decision was one that could have been made by “most physicians” and “a reasonable physician” in similar circumstances. Higher scores indicated greater agreement and, therefore, lower liability.

Results from the study

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Postpartum Depression May Last for Years

January 2021

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Many women develop depression after giving birth. This is called postpartum depression. A new study found that a large number of women had high levels of depressive symptoms at some point in the three years after giving birth.

Researchers asked more than 4,500 women about their symptoms of depression four months and one, two, and three years after birth. These symptoms included anxiety, sadness, difficulty sleeping, and self-blame.

The women fell into four groups. Most had few to no symptoms over the three years. A second group had few to no symptoms four months after giving birth, but these grew worse over time. This was seen in 8% of participants.

Another 13% had moderate symptoms that decreased over time. About 5% of women experienced high levels of depressive symptoms that stayed high for three years.

Women who had a previously diagnosed mood disorder were the most likely to have long-lasting, more severe symptoms. Women who developed diabetes during pregnancy were also at greater risk.

Currently, doctors screen mothers for postpartum depression up to six months after birth. Screening for a longer time may help doctors identify more women who are struggling with the condition.

“Our study indicates that six months may not be long enough to gauge depressive symptoms,” says NIH scientist Dr. Diane Putnick, who led the study. “These long-term data are key to improving our understanding of mom’s mental health.”

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