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Do telehealth visits result in misdiagnosis?

A surge in telehealth visits across the United States and in Florida in the past year has led to new scrutiny on the methods and data that healthcare providers are now using to make a diagnosis online instead of during an in-person doctor’s visit. These are important considerations, as healthcare professionals run the risk of increased liability if they misdiagnose a patient’s condition.

If there is an omission of important information during the visit, a miscommunication or even a software malfunction that results in incomplete data upon which to make a diagnosis, the provider may be held liable for a breach in the standard of care to his patient.

Even before the heightened use of telehealth visits in the past year, misdiagnosis of illness commonly resulted from this remote format. Between 2014 and 2018, 66% of all malpractice claims in telemedicine were diagnosis-related.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has also relaxed HIPPA privacy regulations so that there is more flexibility in health provider communications with patients with various video-conferencing platforms. This may result in breaches to a patient’s protected health information. Ransomware and phishing scams have increased by 350% since last year, which opens up the healthcare industry to even greater exposure through cyber-liability.

What is medical malpractice?

Doctors owe their patients a duty of care that is commensurate with the standard that is set throughout the medical field. The duty of care pertains not only to treatment but also diagnosis and disclosure of information to the patient.

When a doctor is relying on incomplete information obtained during a telehealth visit, such as the patient’s disclosure of current treatments or medications, missing data from the patient’s medical history, or incomplete description of symptoms, an incorrect diagnosis may result.

The healthcare provider is responsible for a treatment, diagnosis or drug prescription that he provides for his patient. A breach in this duty can result in harm to the patient in the form of disability or death.

Proving medical malpractice can be challenging in Florida. There are statutes of limitations on claims and caps on awards for damages. Because many medical providers have malpractice insurance, having an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Plantation to help you build a strong case with will increase the likelihood of an acceptable settlement of your claim.