Lawsuit Sends Signals

Februrary 20, 2014 By InTouch Health

Last year, a Montana hospital filed a lawsuit against its EHR vendor for failing to meet Meaningful Use deadlines. It’s believed to be the first lawsuit of its kind – and Modern Healthcare recently noted that this may be the first of many such cases.

In this litigation, the company being sued happens to be one of the most experienced EHR vendors in the country – an organization that focuses solely on healthcare. So just think how many lawsuits are waiting to happen when hospitals partner with healthcare novices.

Billions of dollars are still pouring into health IT projects, and that’s enough to attract companies that have little or no healthcare expertise. Let’s take the example of videoconferencing companies. If something goes wrong with a normal videoconference (such as a quarterly call to investment analysts), no one is likely to sue. But when people’s lives are in the balance, it’s another story.

Attorneys are also likely to pounce if a hospital has unforeseen problems treating patients using freeware like Skype. The question becomes: Could they have done more to safeguard the well-being of their patients?

At this year’s annual HIMSS conference, you’ll hear endless talk about mobile health technologies, many of which are not FDA cleared and have been developed by healthcare newcomers. For acute care applications, that’s an open invitation to costly lawsuits.

Most patients have two basic expectations when it comes to telemedicine. First, they expect to be treated by an expert, not an intern. Secondly, they assume that the technology connecting doctor to patient is also the work of acute care experts. When those expectations aren’t met, it’s just a matter of time until lawyers get involved.