Telemedicine In New Jersey May Change Medical Malpractice Laws

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Technology is constantly evolving, and nowhere is this evolution more visible than in the medical field. In New Jersey and elsewhere around the nation, the concept of “telemedicine” is becoming more prevalent: the move is toward less in-person patient-doctor interaction. This futuristic take on medicine is sparking controversy as to how medical malpractice suits will be handled if an in-person appointment is no longer required.

Telemedicine is not a new phenomenon: for some time, New Jersey medical facilities have been updating their processes to incorporate the latest technology. For example, many offices now allow patients to make appointments online rather than via telephone, and others have patients sign in via a tablet rather than using wasteful paper filing. Some doctors even conduct “appointments” via online communication rather than in person.

Of course, the ability to get “checked out” from the comfort of your home raises considerable concern regarding medical malpractice. Some experts are convinced that telemedicine will lead to more suits being filed as patients will not receive the same standard of care in a virtual appointment as they would in person, and should telemedicine cross state lines, the issue of how malpractice is handled in the legal sphere is further complicated. The complexities of conducting medical examinations remotely will require, some say, an entire new body of law to deal with the unprecedented nature of these cases.

We consistently use technology to improve our quality of life, but when advancements create new and unprecedented potential for legal strife, it is up to New Jersey residents to remain aware of how these laws could affect all of us. Medical malpractice cases tend to be complicated and challenging enough for anyone filing such a claim, and changing standards only add to those challenges. A full understanding of how new technology will influence laws can help you to make the right choices for you and your family in terms of your personal health care.

Source: Asbury Park Press, “The doctor will Skype you now: ‘Virtual health care’ gaining ground,” Carol Gorga Williams, May 6, 2013

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