The most important lesson for physicians and care providers from this case is to always receive fully informed consent for the actual procedure performed. Receiving consent beforehand is a prerequisite, but if the circumstances change, or if a modification to the procedure appears appropriate, seek and receive consent again.
Risk managers should be wary of the malpractice risks associated with telehealth, according to several experts who say the sudden increase in usage may have introduced insufficiencies that should be assessed now.
Education on structured handoffs and closed loop communication is paying dividends. Still, malpractice claims are occurring with admitted patients. The fact patterns all are similar: Tests are ordered while the patient remains in the ED. Results come back after the patient is upstairs — and no one ever follows up.
This case demonstrates the importance of carefully preparing one’s argument and presenting the evidence to support necessary findings. Another interesting lesson from this case is on the basic elements of medical malpractice: Even in the face of an undisputed breach of the standard of care, medical malpractice liability is not guaranteed.