Medical Malpractice Related to Tele-Medicine in New Jersey

Blog,Medical Malpractice • July 8, 2020

Way before the coronavirus pandemic caused many businesses and industries to venture into remote delivery, the medical field embraced the innovation of remote healthcare treatment. The majority of healthcare facilities have embraced telemedicine to diagnose, treat, and monitor patients with the use of telehealth applications. Patients are able to enjoy the convenience and access, while providers and employers can enjoy reduced costs, greater efficiency, and the ease of electronic healthcare. Even though telemedicine has many advantages, not everyone benefits from this approach to delivering health care services. Patients must understand the fundamentals of telemedicine, as well as the benefits and potential drawbacks. 

While the practice is distinct in many ways, telemedicine is not protected from medical malpractice, and patients could suffer from catastrophic effects of a doctor or health care professional practicing beyond their scope of the specialty, across state lines, taking inadequate patient history of medical documentation, or failing to recommend in-person diagnosis and treatment when a serious condition is present. 

What Is Telemedicine?

A capable component of the wide telehealth system, telemedicine is the delivery of traditional medicine, diagnosis, and treatment, through digital means. Telehealth is not only for medical services and education but also technologically delivered monitoring and measuring outcomes to promote health and prevent illness. Technology, including web monitoring apps, wearables, videoconferencing, and smartphone apps, can connect healthcare providers and their patients remotely for health care, prevention, education, and public health awareness. 

Telemedicine can allow for practical, real-time consultation and diagnosis. For instance, a patient can consult with their physician from their home through teleconferencing. This can be achieved through the use of computers, tablets, or smartphones. A physician can hear and perhaps see the patient’s symptoms before choosing if they can diagnose the patient and recommend treatment or even schedule a visit to the office. For certain patients living in rural or underserved areas, virtual visits can bring greater health care access, reduce travel time, and shorten the wait time for hospital visits. 

This can also bring more asynchronous access to healthcare for more patients. Electronic medical records, billing information, education, public health care announcements, messaging, and appointment-setting through the doctor or online portals provide an array of medical services. A patient can simply email their doctor, upload a picture of their condition, wait for their diagnosis, appointment, or referral. If a patient is referred, electronic medical records (EMRs) provide greater ease when referring a patient to another physician. 

Telemedicine provides more than just consultation and diagnosis. It also provides for monitoring and prevention methods. Medical providers gather information transmitted through devices, such as wearables or phone apps that deliver blood pressure and glucose levels, preventing office checkups, exposure to ill patients, and emergencies. Health care personnel obtaining the data can detect issues for patients with chronic illness when blood pressure rises or sugar levels spike earlier than the next scheduled appointment. Long-term facility care can transition to the home with distant monitoring, using patient data collection to predict, detect, and prevent emergency situations 

Risks of Telemedicine

Patients are likely to enjoy these many conveniences, but they may be unsure of what they are sacrificing. 

Just like traditional medicine, telemedicine oversight is crucial to protect patients. Because most practitioners, hospitals, and clinics contract for these technological services, they have to make sure that third parties handle patient information safely while understanding patient privacy, medical insurance reimbursement, and the interrelations of the health care industry. 

Despite cost savings, convenience, accessibility, technology can expose patients to malpractice by medical providers and institutions who are found negligent when providing telehealth services. Telemedicine can potentially cross state lines, violating state licensing laws, but remote patient monitoring through wearables presents unique issues. The readings delivered by a wearable device allow doctors to change a patient’s medication based on electronic data that shows an emergency, such as high blood sugar, but prescribing medication without seeing the patient first could be considered negligent. 

The real question in a medical malpractice case is if the act or omission of a doctor represents a deviation from the medical standard, as prescribed by the American Medical Association (AMA), which governs medical boards and oversight agencies, and other equally trained and experienced doctors provided certain information. 

Doctors who rely on electronic data delivery, such as EMRs, electronically delivered vitals, and patient-communicated symptoms to save the life of a patient during an emergency, but another important question is if a health care provider can make a proper diagnosis without first having an in-person examination. 

Do the doctors obtain fully informed consent required for vital visits, informing the patient about the risks of virtual compared to physical consultations? Informed consent and privacy concerns are serious issues in the telehealth industry. All doctors are required to comply with privacy laws established under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and state laws. 

New Jersey Medical Malpractice Injuries

Medical malpractice would never happen in a perfect world, and health care providers would always provide us with the medical treatments necessary. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Statistics show that medical malpractice is the cause of nearly 120,000 fatalities each year. While this may be surprising, shockingly, fewer than 3% of medical malpractice victims ever pursue compensation for their injuries or other damages. That means many deserving victims never end up filing a medical malpractice claim. 

New Jersey Medical malpractice claims allow victims to hold doctors, hospitals, and health care professionals accountable for their mistakes and possibly obtain compensation for their damages. Those unfairly injured by the negligence of a health care professional should contact a qualified medical malpractice lawyer in New Jersey. The firm of Brady Reilly & Cardoso, LLC has the experience and resources to ensure that your case is treated fairly and that your rightful compensation is recovered. Our Hackensack medical malpractice lawyers help victims and their families obtain cash settlements for lost income, medical costs, and pain and suffering. If a trusted physician has unfairly injured you or a loved one has been, contact our law offices today at (201) 997- 0030.