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Virtual medical appointments may increase misdiagnosis risks

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Although video conferencing appointments make it possible for Louisiana residents to see a physician remotely, there may be a downside. Telemedicine may serve a vital need for individuals who cannot travel or leave their homes, but it does not allow a doctor to touch a patient during a checkup. 

A study conducted by physicians posing as patients revealed telemedicine resulted in several misdiagnoses of skin conditions. As reported by Forbes magazine, the study found that remote practitioners failed to ask patients questions crucial to providing an accurate diagnosis. As a result, some doctors prescribed medicines that patients did not need. 

Reducing malpractice risks

Some of the health issues generally missed through a video conference exam may also include infections and strokes. The software used to interact with a patient may not always function accurately. For example, a bug or a “hiccup” in the connection may cause a video stream to slow down or blur important footage. 

If during a virtual appointment a medical practitioner determines a need for a physical examination to provide an immediate diagnosis, he or she may ask to meet the patient at an emergency room. Potentially serious issues, such as a lump or swollen organ, may require a physical exam involving diagnostic tools and imaging equipment. 

Breaching a care of duty

As noted by Bloomberg Law, remote health care practitioners owe a duty of care to protect patients from malpractice and to take steps to prevent it. Deviating from professional standards online or in-person may result in a breach of duty. 

In addition to complying with state and federal guidelines, physicians are responsible for storing a record of the patient’s telemedicine visit. If a breach of duty occurs, a patient has the right to file a legal action seeking damages, including for data stolen from a software hack. 


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