Canadian Lawyer

November 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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34 www.canadianlawyermag.com LEGAL REPORT EVER SINCE THE invention of the tele- phone, there has likely been some form of "virtual" medical care available to patients who, for some reason, can't get to the doctor's office. Whether it is a physician phoning you with your test results or telling you that a prescription has been sent to your pharmacy, that's virtual care. But the Covid-19 pandemic has changed, rather abruptly, the very nature of virtual MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Medical malpractice as care moves virtual Now that medical care is increasingly being delivered online, physicians and lawyers must determine how standard of care guidelines apply, writes Zena Olijnyk care. Daniel Boivin, general counsel for the Canadian Medical Protective Association and a partner at Gowling WLG, says, "With the pandemic, and the inability to see or the encouragement not to see patients in person unless absolutely necessary, telemedicine and all other virtual care methodologies have become very popular and very necessary." Medical malpractice experts say the current laws surrounding medical malpractice apply to virtual care as they do in-person care. However, Boivin and others say that physi- cians and other health-care professionals need to understand how to navigate this method of providing care and provide the most appro- priate treatment to their patients or clients. At a recent CMPA webinar panel on lessons to be learned about virtual care as a result of Covid-19, Seamus Blackmore, Atlantic Canada Health Consulting leader at Deloitte, put it this way: "The genie is out of the bottle and has granted the wish for an easily acces- sible, convenient health-care system." Blackmore says the pandemic has moved up the adoption of virtual care by a decade in just six months. "Barriers that have long stood in the way of fee codes, privacy and security concerns, and technology have proven to be bubbles. Virtual care has become the de facto way to access health- care, and that won't likely change in a post pandemic world." WARMING UP TO VIRTUAL CARE If you had the choice in the future, which would you choose as the first way to seek a doctor's advice? 58% in person 14% videoconference 20% phone 8% email or text Source: Canadian Medical Association poll of 1,800 Canadians, May 2020

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