ChatGPT correctly diagnosed a 4-year-old's mysterious disease after 17 doctors failed
- A four-year-old boy began developing concerning symptoms, including pain and stunted growth.
- After 17 doctors appointments over three years, his mother took to ChatGPT to find an explanation.
One woman had to turn to ChatGPT to diagnose her son after more than a dozen doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Courtney's four-year-old son, Alex, began developing disconcerting symptoms. He was in a lot of pain, chewing on all kinds of things, and had stopped growing taller, she told TODAY.com. Courtney declined to give her last name to protect her family's privacy.
In 2021, Alex appeared to have imbalances between his left and right side, "He would lead with his right foot and just bring his left food along for the ride," Courtney told TODAY.com.
But no one could seem to pinpoint what was going on.
After 17 doctors visits over three years, Courtney took to ChatGPT to figure out what was going on.
ChatGPT thought Alex had a spinal cord abnormality, and it ended up being right.
ChatGPT diagnosed the boy when doctors failed
"I went line by line of everything that was in his (MRI notes) and plugged it into ChatGPT," Courtney told TODAY.com. She also noted that Alex couldn't sit crisscross applesauce, which she said "was a huge trigger" for her that "a structural thing could be wrong."
ChatGPT eventually spat out "tethered cord syndrome," a neurological syndrome where the spinal cord is attached to surrounding tissues of the spine.
Courtney joined a Facebook group for families of children with the syndrome, and saw stories that mirrored Alex's.
Courtney brought up ChatGPT's suggestion at an appointment with a new neurosurgeon, who confirmed that the artificial intelligence program was right. The doctor was able to pinpoint where Alex's spine was tethered on his MRI.
Alex recently underwent a surgery to fix his spine, and is now recovering, TODAY.com reported.
ChatGPT can diagnose some medical issues — but it can also generate fake answers
Although ChatGPT helped Courtney identify Alex's diagnosis, doctors still warn that ChatGPT can make mistakes.
"OpenAI's ChatGPT and other generative AI products currently have known issues and are not error free," Dr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, president of leading U.S. physicians' group the American Medical Association, told TODAY.com in a statement.
One problem is that ChatGPT is known to make up answers — a process known as "hallucination." The bot is also prone to simple computation errors, like inaccurately "solving" a Sudoku puzzle, or incorrectly calculating a BMI it had correctly calculated just moments earlier, Insider reported previously.
Still, some doctors are impressed by how well the program can diagnose diseases.
In his book "The AI Revolution in Medicine," Dr. Isaac Kohane, a physician and computer scientist at Harvard, tested the latest iteration of ChatGPT, GPT-4.
He wrote that the new version of ChatGPT might be better than many doctors that he's observed. It also answers US medical exam licensing questions correctly more than 90% of the time, Insider reported previously.
Currently, GPT-4 is only available to paid subscribers.
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