After a doctor is convicted, is telemedicine dead?

A doctor is sentenced to 9-months in jail after prescribing Prozac to a teen who later committed suicide.

The contract physician, who had a restricted license in Colorado, prescribed generic Prozac for the patient after reading his questionnaire online. It’s one of the first criminal convictions for a doctor practicing medicine over the phone or internet.

This is one of the dangers of prescribing drugs, sight unseen. It’s true that a fair number of office visits can be handled over the phone or e-mail, but that’s mostly follow-up visits for established patients. When it comes to diagnosing and treating new problems, a physical exam and face-to-face meeting is imperative. Especially with patients you don’t know.

Something to keep in mind as more are pushing for “virtual” telephone or web-based patient encounters.

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