Doctors, Malpractice Insurers Outline Rules for Online Advice.
Medem, a network created by many of the leading U.S. medical societies, said it and more than 30 medical-mal-practice carriers--representing more than 70% of the insured physicians in the United States--created the eRisk Working Group for Healthcare to gather and disseminate information and guidelines on Internet-based doctor-patient interaction.
The group created a series of draft documents, including an extensive list of online liability issues and a document offering guidelines, said Edward Fotsch, Medem's chief executive officer.
"Our most recent national surveys show a doubling of physician Web sites and tripling of e-mail communications with patients in the past year," Fotsch said. "During this time, concerns regarding online liability, quality of information on Web sites, security, [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] regulations and malpractice-carrier concerns have also doubled."
Mark Gorney, medical director of malpractice carrier the Doctors' Company, said in a statement that any physician communication with patients carries the potential for liability. "Without some practical guidelines, physicians are left to speculate as to what might be reasonable and acceptable online activities," Gorney said.
Other medical-malpractice carriers involved in the eRisk project include CNA HealthPro, Copic Insurance Co., Farmers Insurance Group, GE Medical Protective, the MIIX Group of Cos., Physicians Insurance, PIC Wisconsin, Professional Risk Management Services, ProMutual Group, the Reciprocal Group and State Volunteer Mutual.
The eRisk issues documents can be found at www.medem.com/erisk.html.