The last year has seen a rapid acceleration in the use of remote electronic consultations. This was due, in part, to the need to maintain social-distance in the COVID-19 lockdowns, to manage workload and to allay patient fears about attending a GP surgery or hospital. Clear benefits to clinicians and patients coupled with pressure on resources caused by the backlog of work built up during the pandemic, mean that we are unlikely to go back to the way things were before. The NHS and several Royal Colleges have issued guidance on when remote consultations and the GMC have devised flowchart to assist clinicians in determining whether such a consultation is appropriate and safe.

Clinicians carrying out e-consultations will need to ensure that the risks of a remote consultation are minimised. Triage will be the starting point, in particular whether the patient has capacity to consent and whether remote consultation is an appropriate medium to assess the patient’s condition. Then, patient consent must be obtained (for both mode of consultation and treatment proposed), confidentiality maintained, symptoms assessed appropriately, contemporaneous notes made and continuity of care arranged. Organisations and their underwriters will need to check that robust governance systems are in place to ensure that the boundaries of their accountability and that of their sub-contractors are clearly understood, documented and securely retained.

Medical Malpractice Forward View 2021 

This article is part of Capsticks’ Medical Malpractice Forward View 2021. 

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Capsticks advise and support medical malpractice insurers and healthcare providers on all aspect of medical law including claims, inquests and regulatory proceedings. 

To discuss how any of these issues may affect your organisation, please get in touch with Majid Hassan or Anna Walsh.