During the Covid-19 pandemic, many physicians and other such healthcare professionals began increasingly offering telehealth services to patients. Although there are naturally some healthcare services that can’t be provided via the Internet, various types of basic appointments can be conducted without requiring patients and doctors to meet in person.
This arrangement yields several benefits for both parties. During the Covid-19 pandemic, telehealth became a more popular option because it minimizes the chances of either patient or the doctor being exposed to viruses and pathogens.
Telehealth appointments are also more convenient than traditional medical appointments. It’s much easier to meet with a physician from the comfort of your own home than it is to actually travel to their office.
Although the worst days of the pandemic appear to be behind us, numerous healthcare professionals continue to offer telehealth options when doing so is feasible. As advantageous as this may be, it’s also already becoming clear that telehealth may influence medical malpractice claims in certain critical ways.
Various issues can result in telehealth services depriving patients of the care they require. In some instances, telehealth services can even put patients’ lives at risk.
Consider the fact that individual physicians aren’t the only ones offering telehealth options to patients. Various startups are also using the telehealth model to connect patients and practitioners more efficiently than ever before.
This emphasis on efficiency can lead to major errors. For example, in one recent tragic case, a 17-year-old patient using the telehealth service Cerebral without his parents’ knowledge died after he was prescribed a medication that carries a warning label for adolescents.
It appears the process Cerebral uses for verifying the identities of patients may not properly identify their ages. As a result, this patient received mental health treatment without his parent’s consent when he was under the age of 18, which is illegal in Missouri, where the patient was from.
That’s just one example. Lawsuits are already being filed due to other circumstances arising from the limitations of telehealth services. For example, blurry images or other technical difficulties may result in miscommunication between a patient and a healthcare professional. This can, in turn, lead to:
It’s also worth noting that telehealth services are a fairly new development in healthcare, the law is still catching up regarding determining whether doctors have the same duty of care to telehealth patients as they do to patients who they meet face-to-face.
This isn’t meant to suggest that telehealth doesn’t have its place. Again, these services have the potential to yield major benefits for patients that can’t be overlooked.
That said, they also leave open the potential for medical malpractice to occur. If you believe you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of medical error, one of our Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at The Weitz Firm, LLC, may be able to help you recover financial compensation for your various losses. Learn more about how we can help by contacting us online or calling us at 267-587-6240.