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Increasing use of virtual doctor visits raise misdiagnosis concerns

In an era when health care costs are skyrocketing, it’s no surprise that consumers, employers and insurers groups are looking for creative ways to cut back on expenses. Although more affordable health care is certainly welcomed by many, North Carolina residents should still be concerned about the quality of the care they receive while cost-cutting measures are put in place.

One method of care that is increasingly being promoted by insurers is visiting the doctor virtually. Rather than appearing in an office, patients have an appointment with their doctor on a webcam. This not only seems convenient for patients, but can also increase the volume of patients a doctor sees every day. Despite potential benefits of virtual medical checkups, some health care observers fear that the risk of misdiagnoses increases significantly when patients don’t have a face-to-face visit something to be concerned about.

Without being able to see a doctor in person, the amount of tests that can be performed is quite limited. Beyond that, those who see a doctor via webcam aren’t likely to receive care from a doctor they’ve never visited before. As such, physicians will be making medical decisions without first-hand knowledge of their patient’s history. Without sufficient information, doctors may fail to diagnose certain conditions or make the wrong call.

Patients have a right to have quality medical care and believe that their doctors are making well-informed decisions. Of course, doctors may be able to handle simple cases with a webcam. At the same time, they might miss crucial details of a person’s medical history or current condition, which could have devastating consequences. No matter the venue, doctors should make sure they have all the information they need before making medical judgments.

Source: MSN Money, “Insurers push more doctors onto webcams,” Dec. 24, 2012

  • Our firm has experience helping patients determine their legal options after they have suffered the consequences of a medical professional’s error. To learn more, please see our Raleigh failure to diagnose page.

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