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Google AI technology put to the test by eye hospital

Eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration can be difficult to diagnose for physicians in Pennsylvania and around the country. This is concerning because diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among working adults and early detection may reduce severe visual loss by as much as 98 percent. The search engine giant Google feel that technology may be able to provide the answer, and artificial intelligence software developed by its British acquisition DeepMind Technologies is to be tried out by a leading London eye hospital.

Doctors currently diagnose macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy by interviewing patients and studying their medical charts, but this is not enough to prevent one or two patients out of 10 being misdiagnosed. DeepMind's artificial intelligence software uses a vast database of medical records and information to develop algorithms designed to detect the type of crucial early warning signals that often go overlooked or unnoticed by physicians. The software will begin its work by assessing over a million optical coherence tomography scans.

The algorithm is designed to detect abnormalities on these scans in much the same way that Google's photo algorithm is able to differentiate between people and object in images. DeepMind's work is especially important because sight loss is expected to double by 2050. Google's British artificial intelligence offshoot has worked with the National Health Service once before. London's Royal Free Hospital uses a smartphone app developed by DeepMind to monitor the functioning of patients' kidneys.

An incorrect diagnosis can have catastrophic consequences, and this is particularly true when early detection can have a profound influence on the outcome. Medical malpractice cases stemming from a failure to diagnose can be complex and challenging, and attorneys with experience in this area may call upon independent experts to establish that the care provided did not meet generally accepted medical standards.

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