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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

Florida personal injury lawyers



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    Navigating Personal Injury Claims in the Age of Telehealth

    Telehealth has transformed the healthcare landscape, offering increased accessibility and convenience to patients. However, this evolution also brings new complexities to personal injury law.

    What is Telehealth?

    According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, telehealth (or telemedicine) is a broad term encompassing various telecommunications technologies to provide health services from a distance.

    Telehealth allows patients to communicate with healthcare professionals in real-time from home, obtain health services like consultations and examinations over the internet, and access health education services. It can also facilitate patient information and medical records sharing between healthcare providers in different locations. From a simple virtual check-up through a video call to monitoring vital signs remotely, telehealth aims to make healthcare more accessible.

    Telehealth services significantly increased use during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a safer alternative to in-person appointments. However, as with any significant shift in healthcare delivery, there are new legal and ethical implications to consider, including those related to personal injury law.

    Potential for Malpractice in a Digital Environment

    Telehealth relies heavily on technology, from video conferencing tools to digital medical records. While this allows healthcare providers to reach patients remotely, it also opens the door for potential malpractice cases. Technical issues, miscommunication due to lack of face-to-face interaction, or a misdiagnosis based on limited virtual examination could lead to harm and, subsequently, grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

    Reliability of Remote Diagnoses

    The reliability of remote diagnoses is another concern in the context of personal injury claims. While many conditions can be diagnosed effectively through telehealth, others require a physical examination for accurate diagnosis. A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis due to the limitations of virtual medicine could exacerbate an injury or illness, affecting the valuation of damages in a personal injury claim.

    Handling of Medical Records in Telehealth Encounters

    Telehealth encounters generate digital medical records, which are critical evidence in personal injury cases. The integrity and security of these records are paramount. Issues such as data breaches, loss of data, or misinterpretation of digital records could complicate personal injury claims.

    Documentation and Evidence Gathering

    In a traditional healthcare setting, medical records are kept as hard copies or in electronic health record systems. In telehealth, all records are digital, simplifying access but raising concerns about data integrity and privacy. These records are crucial for establishing injury timelines, severity, and causality in a personal injury case. Mismanagement of these records could lead to significant challenges in proving a claim.

    Standard of Care

    The standard of care that healthcare providers are expected to meet shouldn’t change whether the service is rendered in person or virtually. However, the interpretation of this standard may be less apparent in the context of telehealth, potentially leading to disputes in a personal injury case. For instance, could a doctor be held liable for failing to detect a condition that might have been apparent in a physical examination but was missed during a virtual visit? Such scenarios will likely be the subject of future litigation as telehealth evolves.

    Informed Consent

    Informed consent is another critical consideration in personal injury claims. While the process remains similar in telehealth – explaining the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the patient – ensuring the patient fully understands this information over a video call can be challenging. Misunderstandings could lead to claims of lack of informed consent if an injury or harm occurs.

    Jurisdiction Issues

    Telehealth allows providers to consult with patients across state lines. However, this could complicate personal injury cases as different states have different malpractice laws. Determining which jurisdiction’s laws apply to a telehealth encounter could be a complex issue in a personal injury claim.

    Technological Failures

    Technology plays a central role in telehealth but also introduces new variables that could contribute to harm. For example, a poor internet connection could lead to miscommunication between the patient and provider, potentially resulting in errors in diagnosis or treatment. This could give rise to a new category of personal injury claims related to technological failures in telehealth.

    Seeking Legal Guidance

    Navigating personal injury claims in the telehealth and virtual medicine age presents unique challenges. It’s crucial to seek legal advice from attorneys well-versed in personal injury law and the nuances of digital healthcare practices.

    We are committed to staying at the forefront of these evolving landscapes at Leighton Law. We understand the complexities of telehealth-related personal injury claims and are equipped to guide you through the process.

    If you or a loved one has been harmed due to a telehealth encounter, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation.

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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