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Research Letter
April 2, 2019

Reported Cases of Medical Malpractice in Direct-to-Consumer Telemedicine

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 2Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
JAMA. 2019;321(13):1309-1310. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.0395

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) telemedicine enables any paying patient to obtain medical consultation and treatment via telephone, computer, or smartphone without a prior physician-patient relationship. Direct-to-consumer telemedicine services emerged in the early 2000s and have increased rapidly to several million patient visits annually.1,2 Physician concern about exposure to malpractice risk in DTC telemedicine has prompted many services to provide malpractice insurance with employment.2 Furthermore, researchers and regulators have raised concerns about DTC telemedicine, including substandard verification of patient identity, suboptimal diagnosis and treatment, and inadequate medical history taking, all of which have the potential to result in malpractice litigation.3 However, the malpractice risk of DTC telemedicine has not been studied.