AI on the Ward: ‘Digitally Assisted Nursing Observation’ in Acute Psychiatric Units

Dr Piers Gooding1

1University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

‘Digitally assisted nursing observation’ has emerged as a novel attempt to semi-automate the monitoring of patients in acute psychiatric units. Patients’ bedrooms are fitted with sensors that monitor the person’s body using ‘computer vision’, signal processing and AI techniques to remotely and continuously track micromovements and colour changes. The person’s pulse and breathing rate can be detected and efforts are underway to detect assault and pre-suicidal behaviour. Aims include improving patients’ safety, minimising nighttime sleep disruption and reducing nursing labour. Several Australian hospitals appear set to trial this technology in acute psychiatric units. This presentation will cover a study of the legal and social implications of this proposed technologically-enabled practice.


Dr Piers Gooding is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow at the University of Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. His work focuses on socio-legal concerns with disability and mental health. He is the author of A New Era for Mental Health Law and Policy: Supported Decision-Making and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2017) with Cambridge University Press and serves on the editorial board of the International Journal for Mental Health and Capacity Law.

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