Teleconsultations have gained popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. And although the state of epidemic threat was lifted in the summer of 2023, “remote” consultations with a doctor have not disappeared from the health care system. The Supreme Medical Council wants to amend the Code of Health Ethics and introduce restrictions on the provision of this type of services.
Teleconsultation is a consultation with a doctor carried out via ICT systems. The patient and the specialist have no direct contact with each other. The entire procedure takes place over the phone (less often chat or video chat). This solution has some advantages. First of all, it saves time. The patient does not have to go to a clinic or medical facility and expose himself to contact with pathogens. However, a remote “meeting” with a doctor also carries many limitations, as pointed out by the Supreme Medical Council. The NRL proposes to introduce a provision into the Code of Medical Ethics specifying strict rules for providing teleconsultations. It indicates situations when this form of benefits is unacceptable.
Teleporada is not allowed in diagnostics
The Supreme Medical Council proposes changes to Article 9 of the Code of Medical Ethics. It now reads as follows: ‘A doctor may only undertake treatment after examining the patient. Exceptions are situations where medical advice can only be provided remotely. What would the new content of the provision include? It imposes an obligation on the doctor to inform the patient about the limitations of teleconsultation. The specialist must verify the patient’s identity before the consultation and ensure that it takes place in confidential conditions.
– Teleconsultation may be provided, especially in the treatment of chronic conditions, for consultation during treatment or to ensure continuity of treatment until the next possible personal visit. It is not recommended to provide teleconsultation to patients who have not yet been treated by a given doctor or who report a new health problem – we read in the materials provided by the Supreme Medical Council.
At the same time, the NRL indicates that it is unacceptable to conduct diagnostics and therapy of the patient remotely (“at a distance”), and a personal meeting is the most appropriate form of contact between the doctor and the patient. The Supreme Medical Council is waiting for comments on the proposed changes. They can be sent by e-mail (to the following address: (email protected)) until January 2024.
Teleconsultations and issuing prescriptions
The new provisions in the Code of Medical Ethics are intended to reduce the risk of abuse and use of teleconsultations for inappropriate purposes, for example issuing prescriptions for strong psychotropic drugs without conducting a thorough medical interview and a reliable assessment of the patient’s health situation. This type of action carries serious danger. It threatens not only the health but also the lives of patients.