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Medical malpractice in the age of telemedicine

According to the American Medical Association, over 60% of all doctors over the age of 55 have been sued at some point in their careers. Our increasingly litigious society has caused the medical malpractice insurance to grow to a $17.1 billion industry. The increases in malpractice coverage has caused some practitioners to go under.

One new development in the medical profession has been the advent of telemedicine. Telemedicine allows physicians to give advice and diagnose patients without having a patient visit the office. The solution has been increasingly popular, as the physician population ages and people become busier. Already, 90% of healthcare executives are utilizing or planning to use telehealth platforms. However, the nascent area of medicine brings new concerns for medical malpractice.

What’s the jurisdiction?

One of the unique concerns with this technology involves crossing state borders. While one of the greatest benefits of telemedicine is the ability for practitioners to provide care to remote areas, the ability to cross state lines will inevitably raise questions about jurisdiction in any potential malpractice cases. As each state has its statute of limitations and procedures with regards to medical malpractice, it becomes unclear what court and procedures should conduct the case.

Misdiagnosis

Another potential impact of telemedicine will be issues regarding misdiagnosis. According to a survey conducted by Medscape, failure to diagnose/delayed diagnoses were the number one cause of medical malpractice suits for physicians in 2017. Although all doctors utilizing telehealth platforms still abide medical practice standards, the lack of a patient’s physical presence may make for interesting case material in any malpractice claims involving missed or delayed diagnoses.

Looking ahead

As with any nascent technology, telehealth platforms will be a game changer that impacts all players in the field. Doctors, insurance providers, pharmacies, and even law professionals will have to adjust to the new challenges and opportunities that the technology brings.

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