First, do no harm. Ethical and legal issues of artificial intelligence and machine learning in veterinary radiology and radiation oncology

Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 2022 Dec;63 Suppl 1:840-850. doi: 10.1111/vru.13171.


Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are novel technologies that will change the way veterinary medicine is practiced. Exactly how this change will occur is yet to be determined, and, as is the nature with disruptive technologies, will be difficult to predict. Ushering in this new tool in a conscientious way will require knowledge of the terminology and types of AI as well as forward thinking regarding the ethical and legal implications within the profession. Developers as well as end users will need to consider the ethical and legal components alongside functional creation of algorithms in order to foster acceptance and adoption, and most importantly to prevent patient harm. There are key differences in deployment of these technologies in veterinary medicine relative to human healthcare, namely our ability to perform euthanasia, and the lack of regulatory validation to bring these technologies to market. These differences along with others create a much different landscape than AI use in human medicine, and necessitate proactive planning in order to prevent catastrophic outcomes, encourage development and adoption, and protect the profession from unnecessary liability. The authors offer that deploying these technologies prior to considering the larger ethical and legal implications and without stringent validation is putting the AI cart before the horse, and risks putting patients and the profession in harm's way.

Keywords: AI; artificial intelligence; ethics; machine learning; medicolegal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Radiation Oncology*