With the rise in remote operations across the globe, many physicians are adopting telemedicine services for their practices. Telemedicine, as defined by News Medical, is the act of providing remote clinical services over real-time communication between the patient and healthcare provider.
While virtual healthcare presents a host of advantages, such as removing distance barriers and making quality healthcare more accessible to those with restricted access — it also carries risks for both the physician and patient.
This article looks at a few ways telemedicine can create new risks for patient safety as well as the emergence of telemedicine lawsuits.
What is telemedicine?
Originally introduced in the late 1950s, telemedicine has been around for decades. It uses all types of platforms, including phone, video, software, and other technology to connect healthcare providers with patients in different locations.
Telemedicine allows patients to receive care from outside their city, and sometimes even outside their state or country without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes. They can discuss symptoms, receive a diagnosis, and even be prescribed medication in a matter of moments.
Ease and convenience like this are hard to resist. However, as telemedicine continues to expand, more and more patients are discovering how it can increase the chances of medical misdiagnosis and exacerbate existing challenges in the healthcare system.
What are the causes behind telemedicine lawsuits?
In certain ways, telemedicine bypasses a few basic standards that doctors operate by. For example, physicians may sometimes consult with patients who live in states they are not licensed to practice in. If something goes wrong, the doctor may be liable for operating against the patient’s state’s laws.
Both patients and physicians accept a new set of risks with telemedicine. These include:
- Violating State Laws — If a patient was wrongly prescribed medication under circumstances that violated state laws, he or she may be able to file a telemedicine lawsuit against the practicing physician if they are out of state.
- Data Breaches — Online care increases the chances of a patient’s information being stolen, accessed, or hacked, and raises privacy concerns.
- Diagnostic Errors — Considering this is already a major concern in the healthcare system, patients may run an even greater risk of suffering injury or worse due to misdiagnosis. This includes wrong, delayed, or missed diagnoses.
- Lack of Policies & Protocols — Though telemedicine has been around for decades, it has significantly evolved and thus requires appropriate regulations. For example, what defines a doctor-patient encounter? How is patient ID verified? Without standardized laws, discrepancies can create a risk for telemedicine lawsuits.
- Informed Consent — If a patient is not properly informed about the risks of telemedicine and is injured or worse in the process, he or she may have grounds for filing a telemedicine lawsuit against the presiding physician.
Even though telemedicine isn’t actually new, it still hasn’t been thoroughly developed yet. These gaps in the process and ambiguity can make room for significant errors. For this reason, telemedicine lawsuits have begun to spring up.
What is telemedicine malpractice?
Similar to medical malpractice, telemedicine malpractice involves a doctor’s failure to provide the accepted standard of care, resulting in the patient’s harm or injury. Yet, telemedicine lawsuits can expand to include other issues that don’t normally arise with in-person care.
A great example of this is the risks of relying solely on technology for accuracy. Glitches in servers or ill-intentioned hackers can alter patient information, leading to potentially disastrous consequences.
A healthcare provider may be liable in these instances.
In order for there to be grounds for a telemedicine lawsuit, the same principles for any medical malpractice lawsuit apply. A patient must prove that:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed
- The doctor provided substandard care
- The substandard care resulted in the patient’s injury
- The injury inflicted monetary, physical, or emotional damages to the patient
Navigating potential telemedicine lawsuits can be tricky. If you have questions, it’s best to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer.
What’s the difference between telehealth vs. telemedicine?
With regard to filing a telemedicine lawsuit, there is little difference between telehealth and telemedicine. Telehealth is an umbrella term that telemedicine falls under.
Telehealth summarizes all types of virtual health communications, such as non-clinical care for patients and healthcare provider operations, meetings, and training. It covers operations both internally and externally, within the system and extending to patients. An example of telehealth would be a healthcare provider administering educational materials, such as videos, to physicians at various locations.
Telemedicine refers specifically to clinical care between professionals and patients, such as diagnosis, remote consultations, and medical imaging. An example of telemedicine would be a patient receiving an online consultation — whether by video, live chat, or another medium — with a specialist.
Your Rights With Telemedicine
With several areas of our daily lives going digital, we can expect to see more healthcare providers adopt telemedicine. If you find yourself with questions after receiving substandard care, the medical malpractice attorneys at Hodes Milman Ikuta are available to discuss your rights and potential for filing a telemedicine lawsuit.
Medical malpractice is a complex case type that requires the right firm to represent your best interests. This means they will have the experience, financial backing, and investigative resources to build the strongest case on your behalf.
Hodes Milman, LLP has built a reputation as one of the nation’s leading medical malpractice law firms. With over 100 years of combined experience and $200+ million won for injured Americans, we stand ready to help your family receive maximum compensation for your losses.
To find out more, please contact us today and receive a free, private legal consultation.