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Virtual medical malpractice far more complex than many realize

As the practice of medicine becomes increasingly dependent on technology, including the use of virtual medicine or telemedicine, there are more and more people in some of upstate New York's more rural counties that can better access advanced medical services. While Greene County residents may have better access to some of the New York's best doctors, there is also the risk of medical errors, just like any other practice of medicine. Unlike any other practice of medicine, however, a virtual medical error is more complex than an in-person mistake.

Take, for example, the medical malpractice system. Typically, when an error happens, the jurisdiction for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is where the accident occurred. Would that be in Greene County where the patient was, or would it be in, for example, Albany County if that was where the doctor was located? What about if the doctor was out of the state? Who would have jurisdiction of the lawsuit then?

Another major concern is who will ultimately be responsible for medical errors in telemedicine. If something goes wrong, is it the doctor who is virtually diagnosing at fault? Is it the doctor or health care provider who is executing the virtual doctor's orders? Is it the technology itself? Or, is it the patient's fault for failing to describe the symptoms in a way that would be recognizable to the physician?

As the field of virtual medicine grows, so too must the field of virtual medical malpractice. While trying to navigate the New York court system alone is difficult for even the easiest of complaints, trying to properly file and win a lawsuit based on (virtual) medical malpractice is next to impossible. Working without an experienced lawyer risks your chance of getting the compensation you deserve following a serious medical error.

Source: USA Today, "Virtual health care gaining ground," Carol Gorga Williams, May 6, 2013

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