Friday 19 October 2018

Patients need to be told of risks of seeing GP online, doctors warn

Patients need to be made aware of the potential dangers of using online and telemedicine services (Posed picture)
Patients need to be made aware of the potential dangers of using online and telemedicine services (Posed picture)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Patients need to be made aware of the potential dangers of using online and telemedicine services for consultations with GPs they do not know, doctors have warned.

Dublin GP Dr Ray Walley said he had a recent experience of a patient who used one of these online services and was prescribed anti-depressants.

However, when she turned up at his surgery she was "floridly suicidal" and the seriousness of her condition had been missed by the doctor in the telemedicine service.

"This is a race to the bottom," he told the annual conference of the Irish Medical Organisation.

"Those who are most vulnerable will suffer," he warned.

GP Dr Pascal O'Dea told the conference that doctors providing the service outside the country do not have to be registered with the Medical Council in Ireland.

He had "grave concerns" about this and also said their indemnity cover, should something go wrong for the patient, was also in question.

The conference heard that these online services tend to be used by young patients.

If patients cannot get a same day appointment with their own GP they may have to resort to using them.

An audit of some of these services in the UK recently found evidence of inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics and opiates.

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