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Robotics in Nursing

Robotics in nursing
Photo: Robotics in nursing
Staff shortages and technical challenges (such as patient lifting and moving) means there is a present and growing incentive to design, develop and implement robotic technology in the delivery of health care.  The reliance on robotic technology in surgical fields has been a reality for decades, but recent trends and developments indicate that the emergence of technology and even robotic technology in the delivery of primary healthcare is a growing phenomenon.

The NCAH website features a number of videos of robots used in healthcare.  For example:
  • Lifting Robot – is intended to assist nurses particularly in the aged care setting to lift or move patients.  The obvious benefit being that there is no need for nurses to compromise their own back-health in the process of assisting their patients.  The use of a robot, as opposed to a mini-lifting machine is intended to make the process a bit less intimidating for the patient.
  • ‘Stan the Man’ – which is used to train nurses and health professionals.  The robot is designed to respond to various treatments applied by the trainee nurse.
  • Actroid-F – the level of impersonation associated with this robotic nurse can only mean it is intended to mimic real nurses and despite the fact that this is clearly a significant technological achievement, it does raise significant questions about the role and limitations of technology in the delivery of primary healthcare.
Machines such as lifting machines have been used in the delivery of primary health care for as long as adjustable beds have been around, but the line between machine and robot and indeed the ethics of their use becomes blurred as the machine / robot is designed to replace rather than assist nurses and health professionals in the delivery of healthcare.

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