The Growing Influence of Telemedicine on Personal Injury Cases

By VSCP LAW

In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world as we know it, hospitals and doctors’ offices had to scramble to transform traditional medical practice into one that could survive widespread shutdown orders. And thus, telemedicine – for the first time in history – became the primary way doctors and patients interacted with each other for most outpatient appointments. “Telemedicine” – also referred to as “telehealth” – is the delivery of healthcare using electronic information and technology, such as computers, videoconferencing, wireless communications, and the internet.

DEFICIENCIES IN TELEMEDICINE

While this form of virtual healthcare is inarguably more convenient than in-person healthcare, it is not necessarily better. Indeed, both doctors and patients will concur that some in-person visits are essential for proper care, diagnosis, and treatment. For instance, a dermatologist would have a difficult time establishing whether a mole is cancerous simply by looking at it on the small screen on her laptop. Instead, she’d have to look at it in person, from different angles and distances, tap it, squeeze it, and measure it to truly know whether it should be biopsied to check for cancer.

TELEMEDICINE AND PERSONAL INJURY LIABILITY

As to how telemedicine affects personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits, it operates under the same laws as traditional, in-person medicine. That is to say, if you have been injured because of what a doctor or medical team has done or not done, then you might have a valid medical malpractice lawsuit. This is true whether the treatment took place in the same room or across the telecommunications highway. Even when the doctor is communicating with you and rendering medical treatment through electronic means, they must provide you proper care and if they don’t, they could be liable for your injuries.

TELEMEDICINE AND PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS 

As in traditional personal injury lawsuits, telemedicine lawsuits will require the thorough preservation of evidence. Evidence includes health summaries, hospital notes, prescription slips, lab results, and other medical reports. When the doctor or hospital provides virtual care, they have the same duties to make an adequate record of their treatment of the patient. Even though the setting is different, their obligations to their patients are the same. Notably, it can be argued that the virtual healthcare setting is ripe for more medical mistakes. Indeed, as mentioned above, how can anyone be certain of a proper diagnosis when it’s rendered through a video conversation rather than through a thorough in-person screening?

Telemedicine cases can open up new issues for personal injury lawyers such as, where should the Complaint be filed if the patient was in one state and/or county and the doctor rendering care was in another? This and other confounding issues make the need to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer that much greater. 

To consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about your potential telemedicine personal injury case, contact the lawyers at VSCP Law.

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