Telemedicine refers to the practice of medicine where the doctor and the patient are remote from each other.
Communication takes place through the use of technology such as the internet and videoconferencing.
Telemedicine, already on the rise, saw further increases when the COVID-19 crisis stranded many people in their homes.
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Potential Legal Problems
Even though telemedicine isn’t new, it has yet to be fully developed. Consequently, telemedicine lawsuits have been on the rise for quite some time now. Telemedicine produces unique legal challenges to medical care, such as the following.
Violation of State Law
In many cases, the doctor is not located in the same state as the patient. The doctor might not be licensed to practice in the patient’s state, and they might be unaware of state law as it pertains to the practice of medicine.
If the doctor’s conduct violates state law, even if the doctor is complying with the laws of their own state, the patient may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, anything that is put online, including patient records, is vulnerable to hacking. This vulnerability raises serious privacy concerns that are unique to telemedicine only in terms of the magnitude of the risk.
Doctors frequently misdiagnose patients, even face-to-face. It stands to reason that the frequency of misdiagnosis will only increase with the practice of telemedicine. “Misdiagnosis” as used here includes wrong, delayed, and missed diagnoses.
Lack of Appropriate Regulatory Oversight
The entire field of telemedicine needs certain regulatory safeguards that are distinct from the regulations governing the traditional practice of medicine. How is a doctor-patient relationship created, for example?
Does the standard of care concerning, say, diagnosis, differ when the patient and the doctor are thousands of miles away? Telemedicine suffers from a lack of regulation and a lack of regulatory standardization among the various states.
If the health care provider does not properly inform the patient about the particular risks of telemedicine, and if the patient is thereby harmed, a medical malpractice claim might arise.
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New Mexico Telemedicine Law
New Mexico residents enjoy some of the most comprehensive and enlightened telemedicine regulations in the nation. Indeed, it is among the top states in the nation when it comes to telemedicine coverage by insurance. The following services, among others, may enjoy coverage:
- Behavioral analysis;
- Addiction/substance abuse specialists;
- Social work;
- Home rehabilitation;
- Dental services; and
- Hospice services.
New Mexico is not a member of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. It does, however, issue telemedicine licenses to out-of-state providers who hold out-of-state medical licenses and who are of “good moral character.”
Telemedicine Malpractice Lawsuits
Telemedicine malpractice is a form of medical malpractice that is specific to telemedicine. If you were harmed by a negligence telemedicine doctor, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Just as in an ordinary medical malpractice lawsuit, you must prove all the following facts:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the doctor;
- Your doctor’s treatment did not meet the minimum standard of competence for a medical professional;
- You suffered harm; and
- The doctor’s failure to meet the minimum standard of care is what caused the harm you suffered.
You must prove each one of these elements on a “more likely than not” basis, which is a much easier standard to meet than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal trials.
Keep in mind that although the four legal elements of a medical malpractice claim are the same in telemedicine as in traditional medicine, their application to the facts of your case might be different. Also, keep in mind that most people settle their claims out of court.
A New Mexico Medical Malpractice Lawyer is Ready to Fight for You
If you believe that your healthcare provider harmed you due to substandard treatment, you can fight back.
At Poulos & Coates, we have recovered over $300 million dollars on behalf of our clients. Contact us by callingat (575) 523-4444 (toll-free: 1-888-478-5424) or contacting us online. Remember, if we don’t win your claim, you won’t owe us a dime.