Liability Considerations Related to Use of Telehealth

“Telehealth adoption has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, signaling the need for providers to examine their malpractice risks associated with virtual care,” says Lindsay Lowe of Wolfe Pincavage law firm. In an opinion piece published in Bloomberg Law, Lowe explains the rapid growth of telemedicine has raised unique concerns related to data, documents, images and other patient information, and physicians and healthcare systems should be proactive in reducing the risk of liability resulting from these matters.

In a summary of the Bloomberg feature, Becker’s Hospital Review identifies six measures it says physicians must consider when delivering care via telehealth services. As quoted directly from Becker’s,

  • Use of telehealth platforms creates a higher risk for data breaches of the patient’s protected health information.
  • Providers may experience challenges when examining patients via digital health platforms rather than in-person visits. This, in some cases, can lead to misdiagnosis or possible improper prescription of the patient’s medication.
  • Software limitations or internet server glitches may also lead to diagnostic errors.
  • Best practices to reduce medical malpractice concerns are to educate patients on what to expect during their telehealth visits and providing informed consent that outlines potential risks with the telehealth services as well as their respective security measures.
  • Providers must also accurately document the virtual visit and keep proper patient records, which ensures patient confidentiality and standards of care are met.
  • Providers should familiarize themselves with their state telemedicine laws because some states have specific requirements around patient medical history, written documentation, follow-up care and emergency provisions.

MLMIC encourages all insured physicians, other healthcare providers and facilities to remain vigilant in their use of telehealth and offers a number of resources that can help policyholders mitigate risks presented by use of this technology: