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Increased Use of Telemedicine Raises Questions re Medical Negligence

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, telemedicine and telehealth are becoming increasingly necessary methods for doctors to reach patients and provide critical medical support. Over the last decade, telehealth has experienced significant growth, and has been particularly effective in the areas of pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology. Parents with a sick or injured child may want to check with a doctor’s office before unnecessarily making an in person visit. Similarly, many ob/gyn visits may be routine. Rather than exposing a patient to potential germs, providing updates via telemedicine may suffice.

However, now that maintaining distance and limiting exposure is at a premium the number of telemedicine visits has skyrocketed, and some doctors may be called on to provide consultations outside of their areas of specialty. Unfortunately, this may open up risks to patients. Thus, while doctors, nurses and other health care providers have been called on to provide critical medical care to those affected by the coronavirus, many patients who need care are wondering about the quality of care they are receiving, whether via telemedicine or in person, and if something goes wrong, what remedies may be available.

In general, telemedicine is subject to the same standards that govern medical malpractice actions, i.e that a doctor patient relationship exists that creates an elevated standard of care, that the health care provider breached (did not meet) the standard of care, and that the patient was harmed as a result.

While some states and legislatures are looking at immunity for health care providers during this crisis, it is important that patients harmed understand their rights and how to protect themselves and their loved ones.

For questions concerning medical malpractice or any other type of personal injury, please contact the experienced and compassionate Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.



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