AI Diagnoses Fractures and Assists in Treating Sepsis

Nikki Diefenbach

When AI are supplied with data from thousands of doctors, they become more informed than any person could ever be. According to an article in Ars Technica, two recent studies have shown encouraging results that AI is capable of making decisions in diagnosis and treatment. Because the two studies are so different, it points to the variety of uses AI may one day have.

The first study sought to improve the guidelines for treating sepsis with a reinforcement learning algorithm. There was a large amount of data to evaluate: over 17,000 intensive care unit patients and 79,000 general hospital admissions from over 125 hospitals. Each patient included 48 bits of information, ranging from vital signs to lab tests to demographics. The AI Clinician, as it was named, recommended treatments that had the lowest mortality rate among the group of patients.

In the second study, the researchers wanted the AI to be able to identify hairline fractures, which are difficult to distinguish. Most instances of fractures need to be diagnosed in the emergency room and they hoped an AI would be able to assist non-specialists in this area.

The study used data from over 135,000 images of possible wrist fractures to train their deep-learning convolutional neural network. They designed the algorithm to point out areas that would be most likely to have a fracture. The result was that accuracy in identifying fractures increased and false positives decreased. Using this algorithm would cut the rate of misdiagnosis in the ER nearly in half.

The next step for healthcare professionals is to integrate AI into their practice. Soon, clinical trials are expected to show solid numbers in diagnosis and treatment.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What checks can we place on AI concerning the potential to make erroneous decisions?

Q2. Who is responsible when AI is used to support decision-making?

Q3. What effects would this AI have on the roles and skill-requirements of healthcare professionals?