Has The Pandemic Impacted The Quality Of Health Care?
There were numerous concerns in the early days of the pandemic. The foremost concern involved hospitals running out of beds for sick COVID patients. But even in a pandemic, folks need medical services for other matters. One of the major concerns of the new normal is how remote appointments or telemedicine can impact the quality of health care.
Telemedicine and medical malpractice
State governments are now providing the health care industry with broad-scale immunity from medical malpractice lawsuits related to COVID-19. In some cases, the language of the law appears to grant immunity to hospitals that are merely affected by COVID-19 regardless of why the patient is there. In other cases, the text of the law prevents lawsuits from being filed against businesses on the basis of a COVID-19 claim.
However, those risks are secondary to normal everyday risks folks face just by leaving their home. For that reason, many doctors began scheduling appointments over the phone and via videoconferencing. Will this impact the overall quality of health care?
More telemedicine lawsuits, but still negligible
Telemedicine lawsuits were on the rise even before the pandemic. However, the number of claims revolving around telemedicine is still fairly negligible. Will that number rise because of the pandemic? Almost certainly, as more patients are receiving health care over the phone or by computer. Will the number of telemedicine lawsuits rise in relation to the overall number of claims? Maybe, but that could simply be a matter of more individuals getting health care out of office.
Is telemedicine more dangerous than in-office visits?
It depends. Doctors have access to less information than they would if their patient was in the office. They cannot take your blood pressure and it may be harder to use their eyes to make diagnoses. More is left up to interpretation. In cases where doctors require medical testing, the patient will need to make a visit somewhere. Even in cases where telemedicine appointments are held over WIFI videoconferencing, the results may not be as good as in-office appointments.
Then there is the issue of poorer or older Americans not having access to high-speed internet connections. For a videoconference to take place, the patient would require access to a computer, high-speed internet, and be able to install and use the video software. That may not be a given.
Prisoners provide a case study
Several medical malpractice claims along with civil rights lawsuits have arisen out of prisons that often rely on telemedicine to provide cheap health care to inmates. Inmates have alleged that a lack of rigorous medical services has resulted in serious injury and death. While their civil rights claims have been mostly dismissed, the medical malpractice claims could form the foundation of how medical malpractice lawsuits involving telemedicine play out.
Talk to a Roanoke medical malpractice lawyer today
If you’ve been injured due to the negligent practice of medicine, call the Roanoke medical malpractice attorneys at MichieHamlett today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.