Does Telemedicine Raise Malpractice Risk?

The increasing use of telemedicine poses a significant risk of medical malpractice for patients. While telemedicine does offer many benefits, it is far less effective than in-person appointments and can result in misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis. Medical malpractice lawyers in Illinois can pursue claims against healthcare providers for malpractice that occurs during a telemedicine appointment. 

Doctor Shortages and Assembly Line Care

The current and looming scope of the doctor shortage in the United States is alarming. As more patients seek care from fewer doctors to provide it, the risk of malpractice is growing by the year. To help increase patient access, many healthcare providers are turning to telemedicine.

This creates a virtual assembly line that allows physicians to treat more patients in less time. However, this also means that patients are spending less time, and more concerning, less quality time with the physician. Physicians who rush through these appointments can miss symptoms, misdiagnose health conditions, and fail to order the appropriate tests or course of treatment.   

Technological Flaws Increase Risks

Heart rate monitors and other diagnostic equipment can be referenced and data transmitted to the physician during a telemedicine appointment. However, devices used for remote patient monitoring are not flawless. Errors in programming and transmission can result in incorrect data being transmitted. This can result in prolonged patient suffering or wrongful death caused by the interpretation of incorrect data.

Further, many AI-assisted programs and monitoring devices rely on coding and algorithms that are prone to errors. These problems can significantly change a diagnosis and may result in a missed diagnosis of potentially lethal conditions such as heart disease, COPD, etc.

Privacy and Practicing Across State Lines

Telemedicine providers are required to adhere to the same privacy requirements that govern in-person appointments. This includes securing patient records and adhering to privacy laws established under both HIPAA, state, and federal laws. It also requires ensuring that the telemedicine appointment is conducted via a secure platform and that only authorized individuals have access to the live-session or any recordings generated during the appointment.   

Another common problem occurs when physicians treat patients across state lines. Often, patients may live in one state while the physician they speak with during the appointment lives in a different state. However, medical standards, suggested treatments, board licensure, etc. are not uniform across the country. 

This means that a physician in Colorado treating a patient in California can violate the law and commit medical malpractice when prescribing medications, treatments, testing, etc.