Complications with Telehealth and Telemedicine

Complications With Telehealth And Telemedicine.Telehealth and telemedicine refer to virtual visits with a healthcare provider.[1] This could be done over the phone, or through videoconferencing. In remote and rural areas, this is convenient due to possibly a long-distance commute to a doctor’s office. It is also convenient for elderly for whom it is more difficult to travel. There is little doubt that this is an increasing and growing form of healthcare service to the extent that individuals who have used them have grown accustomed to them. Many will still use them when the current pandemic subsides. Does the consumer have anything to worry about regarding these services?

Opioid Overdoses

Although there are benefits to using telehealth services, there are also potential drawbacks. Patients navigating through the workers’ compensation system and through their own legal cases due to workplace injury have found that they have had to use telemedicine. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an exemption to the Haight Act, passed in 2008. The act was essential towards making it illegal to prescribe controlled substances, such as opioids, without an in-person exam. The pandemic exempted this.[2] Workers’ compensation attorneys have encountered instances of doctors prescribing opioids and having some clients die due opioid overdoses. Following up with your healthcare provider is essential while under care.

Am I Getting the Right Treatment?

The accuracy of a diagnosis or recommendation is more likely to be reduced in a telemedicine as opposed to an in-person visit.[3] In traditional medicine, doctors can gauge the pain felt by a patient or recommend treatment through physical means. They can also diagnose mental or psychiatric conditions through patients’ behaviors. Although the intentions of a telehealth or telemedicine visit are for the patient to describe or show their symptoms, there is possibility that the patient may not be accurately describing or displaying their symptoms. There is also a possibility that the patient may not be accurately rating physical pain they are feeling due to an injury, leading a medical professional to misdiagnose or under/overprescribe.[4]

Limitations

Telemedicine is certain to be error prone. Camera quality is of concern when it inhibits the doctor’s ability to diagnose. Power failure could also interrupt a visit. Miscommunication could be an issue. Privacy and security concerns, such as confidentiality of shared information, can also arise.[5] Medical malpractice cases are sure to arise out of the constraints and limitations listed in this article. The doctor-patient relationship is undergoing a transition.[6] While telehealth and telemedicine are different and less reliable than traditional visits to a medical professional, diagnoses, treatment plans, and recommendations should be as accurate.

[1] Panter, Mitchell. “Potential Legal Implications of Telemedicine and Telehealth.” Law Technology Today, American Bar Association, 25 Jan. 2021, www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2021/01/implications-of-telemedicine-and-telehealth/.

[2] Foley & Lardner, LLP. “COVID-19: DEA Confirms Public Health Emergency Exception for Telemedicine Prescribing of Controlled Substances.” The National Law Review, National Law Forum, LLC, 18 Mar. 2020, www.natlawreview.com/article/covid-19-dea-confirms-public-health-emergency-exception-telemedicine-prescribing.

[3] Panter, Mitchell. “Potential Legal Implications of Telemedicine and Telehealth.” Law Technology Today, American Bar Association, 25 Jan. 2021, www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2021/01/implications-of-telemedicine-and-telehealth/.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Klein, Judy L. “Managing the Risks of Telemedicine.” Physician’s Practice, MJH Life Sciences and Physician’s Practice, 5 Nov. 2019, www.physicianspractice.com/view/managing-risks-telemedicine.

[6] George, Aaron. “The Physician-Patient Relationship Has Changed.” Medical Economics, MJH Life Sciences and Medical Economics, 25 Feb. 2020, www.medicaleconomics.com/view/physician-patient-relationship-has-changed.

WorkplaceLawyers.com is the website for the workers compensation attorneys firm of Livingston, DiMarzio LLP Our team of attorneys is made up of New Jersey Mesothelioma Lawyers, NJ Workers Comp Lawyers, Employment Lawyers and Certified New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Attorneys.