Telemedicine allows patients to consult with physicians and other health care providers remotely, usually through apps or websites. Recent changes in New Hampshire law now allow patients to have telemedicine visits with providers from the comfort of their homes or offices. Nationwide, the use of telemedicine is increasing rapidly, with over one million telemedicine visits expected to occur this year.
Researchers in California recently went undercover, posing as dermatology patients of 16 telemedicine companies, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. The results were quite disturbing.
Many online physicians “treating” the researchers misdiagnosed serious medical conditions—including three who assured a patient that his aggressive form of skin cancer, nodular melanoma, was benign. The physicians also failed to advise the patient to follow-up with a doctor in person.
The study found that the diagnoses that required physicians to obtain more information from their patients lead to less accurate results. For example, none of the eight providers who consulted with a patient with secondary syphilis asked about his sudden onset of fevers or skin plaques. Instead, they simply agreed with his suggestion that psoriasis was the cause of his symptoms.
Another female patient presented with inflammatory acne. None of her twelve providers asked her about her visible facial hair or irregular periods, symptoms of the complex condition polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Two of the telemedicine companies, First Derm and First Opinion, connected patients with physicians located overseas, in violation of California state law that requires physicians treating patients to be licensed in that state. According to First Derm’s CEO, Alexander Borve, “there is no doctor-patient relationship” because patients remain anonymous.
While telemedicine is convenient for consumers, it is not without risk. Telemedicine patients do not always know who they are consulting with during their visit and whether their provider is qualified. The provider does not have the benefit of the in-person examination. Thus, misdiagnosis can occur and lead to disastrous results.
If you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed by a telemedicine provider, contact one of our experienced attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan to discuss your rights.
A woman in Tennessee recently experienced a new mother’s worst nightmare after she discovered the hospital performed a surgical procedure on her newborn that was meant for another baby.
According to the mother, Jennifer Melton, a nurse came to take her son Nate away for what she thought was a postnatal checkup, telling Melton to “get some sleep.” Unbeknownst to Melton, Nate underwent a frenulectomy, a procedure to remove the piece of tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth. When Nate was eventually brought back to Melton’s room, the nurse began to explain how this surgery would help with Nate’s nursing problems. Melton was confused and advised the nurse that Nate did not have any nursing problems.
While the nurse tried to determine what happened, the surgeon who performed the surgeon called Melton and advised her that he had performed the surgery on Nate by mistake.
What happened to Jennifer Melton and her baby Nate was a never event, a type of mistake that should never occur in medicine. According to the patient safety organization Leapfrog Group, never events are “adverse events that are serious, largely preventable, and of concern to both the public and health care providers for the purpose of public accountability.”
Doctors and hospitals must be held accountable for never events. The attorneys at Abramson Brown & Dugan have vast experiences handling such cases, from those involving babies switched at birth to cases involving sponges left inside of a patient’s body after an operation. If you or a loved one has experienced a never event at a New Hampshire hospital, contact one of our experienced attorneys today to discuss your rights.
Do you know someone who was injured or died after undergoing one of the following surgeries?
Partial removal of the small intestine;
Partial removal of the large intestine;
Surgery to repair a torn or bleeding ulcer;
Surgical removal of scar tissue from the abdomen;
Removal of the gallbladder;
Removal of the appendix;
If so, you are not alone. According to a recent study, eighty percent of all emergency general surgery deaths relate to these seven procedures. Further, over half of those who undergo these emergency procedures develop a postoperative complication.
While complications occur even in the absence of medical negligence, medical providers need to do a better job of recognizing complications earlier. Indeed, in an invited commentary to this study, Dr. Martin G. Paul wrote: “Continued studies along these lines should provide direction for high-impact quality initiatives emphasizing not just a reduction in complications but an earlier recognition of these particularly morbid adverse events.”
The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have investigated and successfully resolved many cases in which a medical provider failed to diagnose a complication arising from one of these seven emergency general surgery procedures. If your loved one was injured or died after undergoing one of these seven procedures at a New Hampshire hospital, contact one of our experienced attorneys today to discuss your specific case.
Medical errors kill more Americans annually than motor vehicle accidents, firearms and suicide combined, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Despite this, hospitals and medical providers are doing very little to determine how to prevent them from happening.
Indeed, discussions about how to prevent medical errors usually only occur in very limited forums within a hospital, such as confidential quality assurance committees, where information is shared only with those who are “in the know.” These discussions do not occur every time a medical error takes place, but only in response to certain, egregious errors. The lack of transparency in the medical community regarding medical errors prevents medical providers from learning from the mistakes of others and makes it much more likely that they will keep repeating the same mistakes.
Medical malpractice actions prevent hospitals and medical providers from sweeping medical errors under the rug. When a patient files suit over a medical error, the information is made public. Medical providers who would not normally have been informed of the medical mistake will know about the medical error and will have an opportunity to learn from it. In New Hampshire, a copy of the complaint is automatically sent to the Board of Medicine, so there is an independent review of whether the offending physician is fit to practice medicine. Finally, other patients have an opportunity to learn of the medical mistake and factor that into their decision making when trying to select their own healthcare providers.
The legal process plays an important role in holding hospitals and medical providers accountable for medical mistakes when they do occur and in preventing future medical mistakes from happening. If you have been injured by a medical error, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights. The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have vast experience handling such claims in New Hampshire and are happy to discuss your specific needs with you.