Medical practices in New York and across the country have seen growing demand for telehealth services in the past few years. Patients and medical staff enjoy the convenience of receiving healthcare without a trip to an office. However, there are risks involved with virtual medicine that can lead to injury and malpractice claims.
Balancing convenience and patient care
Sitting in a waiting room is never fun when you are feeling unwell. Telehealth services are perfect for dealing with frequent minor health issues like colds and flu. They are also helpful for following up with patients as they recover from illnesses or procedures.
Speaking with a doctor or nurse on the phone or through a screen lacks immediate contact that provides vital information. A patient may downplay symptoms or fail to share minor issues that point to a significant underlying problem. Healthcare providers may misinterpret patient concerns if they fail to ask clarifying questions.
Misdiagnosis may result when a medical professional is dealing with an incomplete picture. Some of the most common misdiagnoses in telemedicine include:
- Orthopedic issues
Technology and medical malpractice
Technology in healthcare can create the potential for medical malpractice. The medical professional may have nothing to do with a poor internet connection or glitchy software. However, a misdiagnosis that occurs due to technical issues can still be grounds for a malpractice case.
Medical practices that use telehealth are responsible for ensuring functionality. They should use the latest versions of software platforms and update them frequently. Maintaining a well-operating system may also require hiring dedicated IT personnel or services.
Malpractice and data security
Digital health records are another place where new technology can contribute to patient harm. Poor security protocols leave data at risk for theft, manipulation and ransomware attacks. Delayed treatment due to lost data can result in serious health consequences.
The growing popularity of telehealth services requires that medical professionals learn a new skill set. However, with adequate safety protocols in place, virtual medicine will greatly benefit patient care.