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Premises Liability

Telehealth has legal risks

Doctors are providing a greater range of virtual medical services to patients at another location, even in another state. This technology was considered as a safe alternative to entering a doctor’s office this spring. But doctors must take steps to assure that they practicing telemedicine and telehealth legally and protecting patients against medical malpractice.

Virtual technology is comprised of two categories in Illinois. First, a physician uses telemedicine to collaborate or confer with a health practitioner in another location. Telehealth includes telemedicine and is the delivery of health care services through an interactive telecommunications system.

Illinois allows physicians to use telemedicine and telehealth for providing health care services, but it is not classified as a distinct health care service. A heath care practitioner may use this technology if the same standard of care can be rendered, as if it were provided in person. Prescriptions for controlled substances may be issued in accordance with Drug Enforcement Agency rules.

Doctors who use these services for patients in Illinois must be licensed to practice in this state. During the current public health emergency, physicians who are not license in Illinois may continue to engage in telemedicine and telehealth for Illinois patients if there was a doctor-patient relationship that was already established.

Physicians practicing telemedicine or telehealth do not face new malpractice risks. But using these technologies does not lower the standard of care that doctors must exercise in accordance with the conditions and the focus of their practice.

Physicians should assure that they are practicing in accordance with Illinois’ professional licensing laws and other legal requirements including standards governing virtual medicine. This also requires compliance with standards of care set by these laws.

Doctors can utilize existing technology to help them comply with the laws and regulations governing these virtual services. Some applications allow some practitioners to obtain training to help assure that they provide quality care in this new setting.

Victims of in-person or virtual malpractice may face serious personal and financial losses. An attorney can help them gather evidence and seek compensation and damages.

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