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Computers Better Decision Makers Than Surrogates

A research published in the P Los (Public Library of Science) suggests that computers could guess better than human beings when it comes to speculating// the wishes of a terminally sick patient.

David Wendler, bioethicist for NIH in Baltimore stumbled upon this finding while he was analyzing the decisions of a computer and a loved one on the course of action involving a critically ill patient.

Wendler was evaluating the results from 16 earlier studies where surrogates were checked on their capacity to deduce the wishes of the patient. He found that they were only 68% correct when compared to computers which had scored a 78%. He had provided the computers the basic information about the disease and the chances of recovery.

He felt that these machines would be more accurate if demographic factors were also given along with the basic medical facts. The accuracy of computers could be attributed to their lack of emotional attachment with the patient.

Wendler opines that population based procedure of deciding the preferences for treatment can be put to use to enable the surrogate to make the right decisions and also a compulsory alternate to surrogates. This method could also be used to allow the patient to decide in advance their treatment preferences.

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