NYMC Faculty Publications

Malpractice Cases Arising From Telephone Based Telemedicine Triage in Ophthalmology

Author Type(s)

Student, Faculty

Journal Title

Seminars in Ophthalmology

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Document Type


Publication Date




Second Department



PURPOSE: To determine the allegation, precipitating medical issue, and outcome of telephone triage focused malpractice litigation among ophthalmologists. METHODS: The WestLaw Edge database was reviewed using terms pertaining to ophthalmology and telemedicine. The search ranged from 4/7/30 to 1/25/22. RESULTS: Of the 510 lawsuits, 3.5% (18/510) met inclusion criteria. 94.5% (17/18) alleged delays in evaluation and/or treatment. 61.1% (11/18) alleged incorrect diagnoses, 38.9% (7/18) claimed improper discussion of risks or informed consent, and 5.6% (1/18) alleged delayed referrals. The precipitating medical issues included retinal detachment in 33.3% (6/18) of cases, post-procedure and post-trauma endophthalmitis in 33.3% (6/18) of cases, ocular trauma without endophthalmitis in 22.2% (4/18) of cases, and bilateral acute retinal necrosis and allergic reactions each accounting for 5.6% (1/18) of cases. CONCLUSION: Telephone triage creates potential malpractice litigation. Delay in in-person clinical evaluation and alleged failure to inform patients of possible irreversible vision loss may lead to potential malpractice litigation. We suggest offering the option of same day in person evaluation and informing the patient how delay may lead to irreversible vision loss.