Robots Coming to a Doctor’s Office Near You

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LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- Robots are a vital part of the medical field, and researchers continue to develop new and unique uses for them. They already help doctors do their jobs better on a daily basis, and we found them not only training surgeons, but visiting with patients as well.

Robots are invading the medical field, and that's a good thing.

Associate Prof. of Surgery at UCLA Erik Dutson says, "The interesting thing about robots is that they allow us to do things more precisely than human beings might do".

Engineers at UCLA are working on LAPA-ROBOT. These internet linked devices can train doctors for minimally invasive surgeries.

"It's actually like driver's ed," explains Erik, "what this does is makes more surgeons better at what they do".

Right now these machines stand just a few feet apart, but theoretically they can be thousands of miles apart during training. Which means no matter where the doctor is, they'll be able to learn.

The LAPA-ROBOT is only for training, but it's not too tough to imagine a day where surgeries might be performed by a far-away doctor.

Just a few blocks away, RONI is a robot making the rounds at UCLA's Neurosurgery ICU. A doctor controls the robot from a computer, logging in to check on patients from just about anywhere with internet and a webcam.

"The reaction of the patient is typically one of amazement," says Neurologist Dr. Paul Vespa, "we can see a patient at a moment's notice, maybe somebody that is critically ill in an ICU setting or someone in an emergency room".

The ability to zoom in on the smallest details gives doctors super human strengths to look at documents or check symptoms.

Dr. Vespa says, "We've seen that this has reduced length of stay in ICU, and reduced cost of care. It's actually improved its patients care overall. It saved people's lives who are critically ill".

Robots aren't replacing human doctors just yet, right now they are aiding them. But in the future they might be able to perform simple tasks all by themselves.

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