Florida Medical Malpractice and Telemedicine
More and more, healthcare facilities are relying on telemedicine, or the use of phones and videoconferencing equipment to advise patients on medical concerns. However, with the rise of telemedicine in Florida, it has many concerned about the potential medical malpractice risks when the elimination of in-office, face to face visits occur. Nationwide, about ninety percent of healthcare organization plan on implementing some type of telehealth platform in the coming years, and 95 percent of employers offered telehealth services to employees for minor, non-urgent services in 2018.
According to the American Telemedicine Association, telemedicine is defined as a healthcare provider’s provision of services to a patient using telecommunications technology, where the patient and provider are in different locations. This can include the use of videoconferencing, remote patient monitoring, image capturing, and the use of peripheral digital diagnostic medical devices. The association states that all technology used must comply with HIPAA, HITECH, and state regulations in addition to providers abiding by all in-person medical practice standards, medical licensing boards, and informed consent.
There is potential for telemedicine to minimize errors and improve outcomes for patients through the use of algorithm assisted diagnosis, patient data collection, and analytics. This is especially true in rural and other areas where access to quality healthcare is limited. However, when a telemedicine physician makes a mistake, the questions surrounding medical malpractice liability are significant. Medical professionals may face liability in any state where a patient resides, where the doctor is not licensed, and this poses a number of new questions regarding licensing, differing standards of care, and malpractice insurance. This issue is compounded when telemedicine doctors are prescribing medication to patients without an in-person visit first.
At this time, there have been very few legal opinions issued on the matter of telemedicine medical malpractice. Prisoners who have received medical care from a telemedicine physician have made constitutional claims of a deliberate indifference to a medical need, and an Arizona pharmacy was found in violation of state law when it dispensed medication according to a prescription ordered by a telemedicine doctor who lived in another state. If you are considering using a telemedicine physician for your medical issues, consider consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney first to understand the liability issues at stake if you telemedicine doctor makes a critical mistake. Legal issues such as medical malpractice liability laws, statutes of limitations, standards of care, and caps on damages can all be different depending on where you file a claim for malpractice. As of today, the courts are unclear on whether the patient’s or the doctor’s home state has jurisdiction over telemedicine medical malpractice claims.
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Technology is evolving in the field of medicine, and with it comes a new set of questions involving medical malpractice liability in Florida with telemedicine healthcare providers. To learn more about your legal options if you believe a telemedicine doctor committed malpractice, call or contact the West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorneys at the office of Gary Roberts & Associates today.