You call your doctor for an appointment to discuss a mental health issue, such as PTSD. Instead of seeing you in the office, they set up a telemedicine appointment to meet your mental health needs. It’s fantastic because you can see your healthcare provider from your kitchen table. But are telemedicine appointments as good as seeing the doctor in person? What happens if the doctor misdiagnoses your mental health condition or misses it entirely because the visit wasn’t face-to-face?
Personal injury cases stemming from telemedicine appointments are a concern as many people see their doctors via Zoom and other online tools today. For example, A medical malpractice lawsuit is possible if your physician fails to diagnose a mental health problem or makes the wrong diagnosis during your telemedicine appointment. If your case qualifies, Pinder Plotkin may help you receive compensation for your injuries in a medical malpractice claim.
Telemedicine is medical care accessed online and is also known as telehealth. Remote healthcare allows certain patients and their doctors to communicate via the telephone or video. A significant benefit of telemedicine visits is that they enhance access for rural patients. Telehealth also allows patients to get mental medical care when they cannot drive or must stay out of the public for health reasons. Telemedicine also may help healthcare providers to increase their patient load, which increases access for the public. Some examples of telemedicine methods are:
- Live video conferences on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and Microsoft Teams
- Sending medical images and files through secure email
- SMS and text messages
- Telephone calls
- Cloud storage of medical files for anywhere access
- Monitoring medical devices remotely
As of 2018, the American Medical Association reported that at least 25% of US doctors worked where telemedicine was used. Today, it is estimated that approximately 70% of US medical offices use telemedicine appointments to see patients.
Telehealth has recently become especially popular for handling patients’ mental health needs. Some patients like seeing their doctor for mental health and PTSD concerns because it provides more confidential care than going to a doctor’s office. But is seeing a doctor online for a mental health problem safe?
Do Telemedicine Appointments Cause More Medical Errors?
Many stakeholders wonder what happens when doctors and patients no longer meet face to face. People who favor telemedicine say remote care is often beneficial for saving money, improving access, offering more confidentiality, and allowing more access to medical specialists with booked schedules.
That said, a video conference is less interactive and personal than a face-to-face visit. Telemedicine is billed to boost rural access to healthcare, but people in those distant locales may need more Internet connections and technology necessary for these remote visits.
One recent clinical study examined whether direct-to-consumer telehealth led to more personal injury and medical malpractice cases. This study only reviewed 550 medical malpractice cases, and none involved DTC medical treatments.
The study showed no medical malpractice cases involving DTC telemedicine appointments out of the 550 patients studied. However, the scientists behind the study suggest that this indicates low-risk expectations prevalent in direct-to-consumer telehealth practices.
However, more study needs to be done as telemedicine appointments rose dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic has faded, many doctors and patients are using telemedicine appointments more than ever.
When telemedicine medical errors happen, they tend to fall into three categories:
- Delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Medication errors
In the realm of mental health, it is not uncommon for medical providers to miss mental health diagnoses, such as PTSD. Psychology Today reports on a study involving psychiatry patients in South Africa, where doctors missed PTSD diagnoses 85% of the time.
If a mental health misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis happened to you because of the doctor’s negligence, your rights and legal options are the same as if the issue occurred during an in-office visit.
Can A Telemedicine Mistake Become a Medical Malpractice Case?
A medical malpractice lawsuit may be appropriate if the doctor or medical facility veers from the standard of care and injures the patient because of a missed mental health condition. Even if it seems to be an accident, medical professionals are held to the highest standard of care.
While many malpractice claims stem from a physical health condition, litigation also happens when the underlying condition is mental. If a doctor did not diagnose or misdiagnosed your mental health condition in a telehealth visit, it could be a potential medical malpractice claim.
How Do You Know If A Telemedicine Appointment Is Medical Malpractice?
As explained above, doctors must use the accepted care standard when caring for your mental health. If they deviate from the standard of care and cause an injury, it could be medical malpractice. The standard of care is determined by whether the physician used a similar level of skill, experience, knowledge, and care that another ‘reasonable’ medical professional would have in the same situation. Whether you saw the doctor in person or on Zoom, the same standard of care rules apply.
If you suffered a physical or psychological injury after seeing a doctor via telemedicine appointment, talk to a personal injury attorney to determine if you have a case. You could be entitled to a personal injury settlement for your injuries and losses if you have a strong case.
Contact a Baltimore Personal Injury Attorney Today
You scheduled a telehealth appointment for your mental health issue when your medical provider recommended it instead of coming in person. They missed the seriousness of your problem or misdiagnosed it. Now your mental state has deteriorated; you can’t work and don’t know what to do.
You have legal options, but it is essential to take action quickly because time is limited. Most medical malpractice claims in Maryland must be filed within five years of the date of injury. But if you discover the mental health injury later, the malpractice claim must be filed within three years of when it was found. Call Pinder Plotkin today to determine if you have a potential telemedicine medical malpractice claim that may result in a settlement or favorable verdict.