'Elderly man told he's going to die via video-link'

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont, California. Credit: Google Street View

An elderly man in the US was reportedly told he was going to die via a video-link on what his family described as a "robot".

Ernest Quintana, 79, was said to have been told by a doctor through the video-link that his lungs were failing, he "might not make it home" and that he did not have long to live.

Annalisia Wilharm, Mr Quintana's granddaughter, told local news station KTVU that she was with him in the intensive care unit at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont, California, when a nurse said a doctor would be making his rounds.

Ms Wilharm said a robot then arrived in the room and the doctor appeared on a video screen.

A hospital spokesperson said a nurse brought the device into the room and that it does not navigate on its own.

Ms Wilharm said that the heartbreaking news that her grandfather was dying hurt even more delivered through a machine.

Mr Quintana's daughter, Catherine, told KTVU that the family was further upset because her father had trouble hearing the doctor through the speakers, forcing Ms Wilharm to relay the terrible news.

Michelle Gaskill-Hames, senior vice president for Kaiser Permanente said in a statement to NBC News that it was a "highly unusual circumstance".

"We regret falling short in meeting the patient's and family's expectations in this situation and we will use this as an opportunity to review how to improve patient experience with tele-video capabilities," Ms Gaskill-Hames added.

She continued that the technology allows a small hospital to "have additional specialists" assist with patient care around the clock.

"This secure video technology is a live conversation with a physician using tele-video technology, and always with a nurse or other physician in the room to explain the purpose and function of the technology," Ms Gaskill-Hames said.

"It does not, and did not, replace ongoing in-person evaluations and conversations with a patient and family members."

Mr Quintana is said to have died on Tuesday, two days after he was admitted to hospital.