Dr. Watson Unsafe and Incorrect?

Five years ago I wrote about Dr. Watson and how it won’t replace doctors.  I actually wrote about it before that in the former Placebo Journal blog.  I thought it was interesting that this just came out:

Internal IBM documents show that its Watson supercomputer often spit out erroneous cancer treatment advice and that company medical specialists and customers identified “multiple examples of unsafe and incorrect treatment recommendations” as IBM was promoting the product to hospitals and physicians around the world.

Oops.  I don’t want to say I told you so but…..

Truth be told I do think that Watson will get better at this type of stuff.  Where it will ALWAYS fail is in picking up the nuances of medicine. You can’t just plug in weight gain, fatigue, and hair loss and expect hypothyroidism to be the answer.

I now expect Gomerblog or The Onion to talk about Dr. Watson being put on a PIP (performance improvement plan) and be subject to a State Board of Medicine review whereupon he contemplates quitting medicine as he sits in a car doing a J.  That is what I would do.  The parody part, I mean.

Oh, and let’s call this whole Dr. Watson thing what it is, shall we? It’s just another way for administrators to replace us. As a physician I would embrace IBM and Watson that at your own peril.

Listen to one of Dr. Farrago’s podcasts here

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  3 comments for “Dr. Watson Unsafe and Incorrect?

  1. Carl Edward Gessner
    August 8, 2018 at 5:37 am

    Watson will never be able to palpate a patient’s anxiety and factor that in.

  2. Steve O'
    July 30, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    People laboring under superstitious beliefs usually believe they are smart and insightful. In most areas, they are. We have an unfounded superstition that “artificial intelligence,” which is intellectual reductionism into algorithm, can surpass human thought. I am alarmed by the contempt this shows in human thought and humanity in particular.
    Artificial intelligence, when it works, operates by processing a sequence of explicit rules. This represents only a tiny fraction of human thinking, even when applied to concrete observations like diagnosis. Tacit thinking, or “gestalt” thinking, is an essential part of the methods used by physicians. The final end-point result of machine thinking is bureaucratic thinking, not individual human cognition. If we are to be forcibly assimilated into the “BORG,” we should not volunteer.
    And PW is right. The ultimate goal of Dr. Watson and all the IT beliefs is to dump the liability for mistakes on the patient. Too bad for you! say the bureaucrats.

  3. PW
    July 30, 2018 at 9:42 am

    Can’t sue Doc Watson????

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