Medical Malpractice in Telemedicine: Can Victims Take Legal Action?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on November 16, 2023 and updated on January 4, 2024.

woman having facetime call with doctorPatients have been able to use telemedicine for more than 20 years, but it has surged in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic.

While telehealth/telemedicine offers many benefits for those who need medical care, including cheaper cost and convenience, there are also risks. For example, doctors might misdiagnose an illness, which could have serious or even fatal consequences.

If you were injured by medical malpractice while using telemedicine, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries and damages. Victims can contact The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl to discuss their potential legal options.

Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers have been helping medical malpractice victims for decades and have secured millions in these types of cases.

Call to learn more about our services. There are no upfront costs. 410-244-7005

What Is Telehealth?

Telehealth, or telemedicine allows doctors to provide consultations and exams over the phone or through video calls or secure messaging apps.

Any time you receive care without seeing a doctor in his or her office, you have made use of telemedicine. Doctors may provide monitoring devices to collect patient data to help them conduct an effective examination.

Doctors can use telemedicine in a variety of ways, including to:

  • Follow-up with patients after surgery
  • Conduct speech or occupational therapy
  • Help patients with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety
  • Refill prescriptions
  • Quickly diagnose medical problems like migraines, skin infections and urinary tract infections
  • Change prescriptions, such as modifying the dosage or frequency of the medication

What Are the Dangers of Telemedicine For Patients?

One of the biggest problems with telehealth is that doctors are limited in the amount of information they can acquire about the patient. They cannot perform the type of physical examination they would in an office setting. For example, during a telemedicine visit, the doctor cannot push on your abdomen to check for anything abnormal.

Lack of Physical Contact

When doctors cannot touch a patient, they might miss a potential red flag that could help them make an accurate diagnosis. Doctors must rely on patients or family members to measure vital signs or describe symptoms.

Patients May be More Reserved

Another issue with telehealth is that patients may be more reserved than they would be in person. Sometimes talking to a screen causes patients to say less to a doctor than they otherwise would.

Continuity of Care

Continuity of care is another challenge for patients seeking help through telemedicine. The doctor you see on a video call or through a messaging app may not have seen you before. If the doctor has only seen you through a telemedicine call,  his or her knowledge of your medical history and overall health will be significantly limited. Without that background knowledge, it can be harder to provide effective treatment.

These types of limitations are not anyone’s fault. They are simply the nature of telemedicine versus an in-person examination. That said, when doctors lack the information they need, it is their responsibility to let the patient know and recommend an in-person visit.

Can Doctors Be Held Liable for Malpractice in Telemedicine?

Even though doctors are not providing treatment in person, they are still required to provide care that meets accepted medical standards. If they fail to uphold this duty, they could face liability for medical malpractice.

There are numerous types of medical malpractice cases involving telehealth. For example, many cases involve misdiagnosed conditions or a failure to diagnose a patient’s illness.

Doctors are relying on patients to report symptoms, but doctors also need to ask questions to help gather information about what might be going on with a patient. If a doctor fails to ask the patient specific and appropriate questions, they might not get all the information they need.

For example, if a patient suffered an ankle injury and later had swelling in his leg, it might indicate a blood clot. If the doctor fails to ask about swelling or other symptoms that could help him or her diagnose the patient properly, it could result in a fatal injury.

Telemedicine medical malpractice cases may also involve:

  • Misreading test results
  • Medication errors, such as prescribing the wrong type or dose of medication
  • Not conducting a sufficient examination after surgery

What Is the Standard of Care in Telehealth?

Telemedicine cases have obvious differences from cases involving in-person care. Despite this fact, victims still have the burden of proof. This means that to have a valid case, either they or their attorneys must be able to prove the four elements of medical malpractice.

  • Provider-patient relationship – You have this type of relationship if you either received treatment or agreed to receive treatment from a doctor.
  • Breach of standard of care – A healthcare professional failed to uphold the standard of care that applied to your situation.
  • Causation – The breach of the standard of care directly that caused your injuries.
  • Existence of damages – Your injuries resulted in damages, such as medical bills for additional treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.

In Maryland, the standard of care is the level of care given by a medical professional who is similarly situated. In other words, a medical professional who has similar training and medical knowledge. If your doctor did not meet that care standard, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland.

If you believe that you or a loved one suffered harm due to telemedicine malpractice, contact our firm to discuss potential legal options.

Benefits of Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Telehealth-related medical malpractice cases can be complex, and an experienced attorney can assess the facts of your case, provide legal guidance, and represent your interests throughout the legal process.

Your lawyer can help you gather relevant information to build a strong case, including medical records, treatment plans and more. We can also bring in relevant medical experts to determine how medical malpractice occurred and how it led to your injuries and other damages.

The lawyers at our firm can answer your questions, including those you may have about what steps you should take to support your case. For instance, we may recommend that you document your symptoms and any conversations you have with doctors.

Injured by Malpractice? Call To Discuss Legal Options

Our attorneys represent crash victims on contingency, which means there are no upfront costs. The initial legal consultation is free.

The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl. Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. Call 410-244-7005.