Doctors treating patients for the coronavirus in city hospitals are voicing concerns about a system which requires them to use facial recognition technology to certify deaths.
The relatively new eVital system, allows doctors to officially certify a patient’s death by using smartphone technology to scan an image of their own face.
However, in order to do this they must take off their personal protection equipment, or PPE, to perform the function. Some doctors feel this creates unnecessary risk since every time they touch anything without PPE they put themselves in danger.
Calvin Sun, a Manhattan doctor who has been working at area hospitals throughout the five boroughs during the Coronavirus crisis, says of eVital certification, “I am concerned with the process it takes to take off my PPE, then put it back on, which is the process it takes to certify pronounced deaths in an emergency room. It leads to increased and unnecessary risk to exposure of COVID-19.”
Asked if he knew of any doctors who became sick after engaging in eVital certification, Sun says it’s hard to say because when doctors get sick “we can’t always trace it. But now it’s a matter of life and death, and this process makes it very difficult to ensure infection control.”
Sun says he and other doctors want Governor Cuomo to issue an Executive Order suspending the practice.
NY1 has reached out to the City's Medical Examiner’s Office for comment, but has not heard back.
In a statement to NY1 on Friday evening, Michael Lanza, Assistant Press Secretary for City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said, “Reports of death should be created in eVital within 24 hours of death. Physicians may certify the death after their shifts are over to meet reporting needs and so they do not have to remove their PPE during their shift.”