Even though most Americans have not heard of telemedicine, the federal government is already actively involved in "developing a national telemedicine strategy." This note attempts to accomplish the following: demonstrate the urgent need of rural communities to gain access to adequate health care; clarify how telemedicine can provide enhanced health care to rural communities; and analyze the legal obstacles that have prevented, thus far, the most beneficial utilization of telemedicine. In particular, this note will examine how malpractice claims arising from telemedicine consultations might be resolved. An important issue to recognize at the outset, and one that consistently reappears throughout this discussion, is that health care and the tort claims that arise out of health care are normally defined by state law, but telemedicine is not restricted by state boundaries. The laws of the state where the patient resides or where the consulting physician resides could control an action, or federal law could preempt any state law.
Note, Malpractice and Other Legal Issues Preventing the Development of Telemedicine, 12 J.L. & Health 173 (1997-1998)