Robots could instruct nurses, scientists claim

Researchers use a robot and computer to assign nurses to patients 
Robots could instruct nurses, scientists claim

Robots could be used to make decisions on wards, American scientists have claimed.

A robot allocates nurses to patients in a mock-up maternity unit. Picture: MITCSAIL

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers tested how reliable a robot would be in the role of a 'resource nurse' on a mock-up maternity unit.

In US hospitals, a resource nurse assigns other nurses to patients, and allocates beds.


The MIT study saw a robot and a computer give instructions to nurses and doctors from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston on which nurses should care for patients and which rooms patients should be assigned to.

Staff were deliberately given a mixture of good and bad recommendations for the benefit of the experiment. Some 90% of the good recommendations from the robot were accepted, marginally higher than the 89% accepted from the computer.

Just 13% of the bad recommendations from the robot were accepted (11% for the computer).

Positive signal

Researchers said the findings were encouraging because they showed a robot could take part in decision-making without nurses inappropriately accepting poor advice.

‘These results indicate a positive signal for successful adoption of a robot that participates in a resource nurse’s decision-making,’ the study said.

Researchers demonstrated the robot to nurses on a working maternity ward following the trial.

Further information:

Robot trial study paper