Medical malpractice

How Coronavirus Will Reshape the Medical Community

April 29, 2020 by James McHugh, Jr.

Currently, life as majority of us know it has been disrupted. The question, “what will life be like after this is over?” has been raised many times over the course of the Coronavirus pandemic; and, while there is no correct answer to this question, one thing remains certain: change is coming. COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of modern life and has forced instant and dramatic changes to almost every industry and occupation. We’ve discovered the possibility to rework the way our societies operate and how we serve one another. One example is corporate employees previously believed to require an office environment to function can actually work remotely – including even at home with children. Along the same lines, we realize more and more with each passing day of the pandemic that our health care system is broken.

Health Care Concierge

With hospitals at critical tipping points and potential patients’ fears of contracting COVID-19 keeping them away from facilities, people have taken telemedicine services by storm. Across the country, health care systems are expanding telemedicine and telehealth options. Patients are now able to consult with a physician or health care professional regarding symptoms, concerns, to refill prescriptions, and to attend therapy sessions. In addition to the wide range of services available to patients, the decreased cost of medical care is also an incentive for patients to continue using telemedicine services post-coronavirus. Patients are now able to pay less for their doctors’ visits as well as save on associated expenses like commuting and parking. While telemedicine has been available for several years, it has not been utilized to the scale and degree that health systems are seeing now. According to Kaiser Health Network, The Cleveland Clinic is expected to log around 60,000 telemedicine visits for the month of March; at the same time the previous year, the facility averaged around 3,400 telemedicine visits per month.

When life recalibrates after pandemic restrictions are eased and we begin to navigate our new normal, patients will likely be more health conscious and prefer non-contact visits as much as possible. While some services – such as EKGs, X-Rays, and other diagnostic tests and treatments will still require patients to physically meet with a physician, some routine visits and check-ups could easily transfer to on-demand telemedicine appointments. While there are many positives associated with telemedicine, there are concerns that the quality of health care will fall and that navigating patient care via telemedicine may lead to an increase in medical malpractice claims.

Patient Care Standards

The medical community must develop protocols to safely navigating patient care via telemedicine – and how to do so without harming to patients. Diagnostic procedures will need to be seriously considered, as even a minor misstep during the crucial diagnostic phase could end a patient’s life. Outside of telemedicine, the medical community should question the terms under which health care professionals can practice by state. As seen during the urgent response to coronavirus, medical professionals across the country were able to practice in states in which they are not currently licensed. How this will affect them post-coronavirus remains to be seen.

Beneficial to All Patients

Unfortunately, rural and low-income communities continue to disproportionately suffer, especially during a public health crisis. These vulnerable communities are already at risk of losing the few options available due to struggling health care systems closing doors due to lack of profits. On one hand, these communities can benefit tremendously from having a virtual physician available rather than having to travel and pay to see a live physician; however, Internet and smartphone access may be not be as accessible in these communities, presenting another barrier. Additionally, if health care systems widely shift to increased telemedicine and close underperforming facilities, communities will continue to lose access to adequate health care. Given the various ways telemedicine could impact vulnerable communities, both good and bad, a solution that makes quality healthcare accessible to all citizens needs to be devised when restructuring post-coronavirus.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorneys

There is much unknown in today’s world and change seems to be the only certainty the future holds. While the medical community will learn from this pandemic and adjust accordingly to meet future public health needs, it is crucial that vulnerable communities and patient care standards are not overlooked due to convenience and profits. If you or a loved on was seriously injured or killed due to physician negligence or that of health care staff or hospital staff, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Please contact us today to discuss the facts of your case.

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