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 treatment recommendations 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 recommendation 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