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Study finds failure to diagnose in remote medicine

Those suffering skin disorders in New Mexico may soon be rethinking the idea of saving money through diagnosis and treatment at a distance. The practice of remote medical care, known as teledermatology, which has grown in popularity, was reviewed in a recent study for the Journal of the American Medical Association. Among the problems noted were failure to diagnose the correct disorder, poor adherence to accepted guidelines and poor disclosure of adverse effects of prescribed treatments.

One of the problems noted under failure to diagnose the proper disorder was a lack of follow-up by physicians. The patient's personal history and family history were often not part of the discussion even when these were relevant to the diagnosis. Though this report did not mention any of the sample patients with misdiagnosed cancer, other misdiagnoses mentioned suggest that this is a possibility.

Teledermatology is currently making inroads by forming partnerships with insurance networks. This study was performed with six fake patients using photos of conditions available from search engines and credit card payment. There was a failure to diagnose cases of secondary syphilis, folliculitis, eczema and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Only a minority of the cases that resulted in prescriptions included mentions of side effects and pregnancy risks.

Teledermatology and other types of remote medicine may have some applications in the future of health care in New Mexico. However, there are obviously serious problems to overcome first. Patients who are misdiagnosed could be seriously injured or suffer death due to delayed diagnosis of cancer and worsened condition of other diseases. Patients may also experience damage from the treatment methods without adequate disclosure, including the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Patients who experience damaging outcomes in any medical setting may be eligible for compensation. An experienced attorney can help determine eligibility and pursue financial relief for the victim and their family.

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