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Online medical practice cannot replace a real visit to the doctor
The Stiftung Warentest tested the online practice “DrEd” and came to a sobering result. According to consumer advocates, the risk of misdiagnosis is immense. The foundation therefore strongly advises against using it.
In November last year, the first online doctor's office opened on the Internet. Patients can receive an initial diagnosis of certain diseases for a fee and can also receive a medication prescription on request. Right from the start of “DrEd”, the medical online portal, which is operated in England, faced numerous criticisms from the medical profession.
The Stiftung Warentest tested the remote diagnosis portal, which is operated by German doctors in London. The testers turned to the portal with two fictitious diseases. The first request was a bladder infection and the second test request was a bacterial infection with chlamydia. In both cases, the fictitious patients were prescribed an antibiotic, although according to the authors the complaints indicated only partially resembled the clinical picture and the online doctors also did not request a urine test for the necessary diagnosis.
According to the portal, the portal advertises "without an appointment, without a practice fee, without looking for a parking space or waiting room" around the clock and regardless of where the patient lives, to provide access to a medical consultation. For remote diagnosis, however, patients have to bear the costs themselves and the prescription has not yet been taken over by the statutory health insurance companies.
Legal opinion: legal gray area
If there is a treatment error, the patient has difficulties, warns the Stiftung Warentest. Because the portal moves with its offer in a "legal gray area", as a legal opinion of the foundation determined. Patients would have to sue the treating doctor in the UK in such cases. This in turn is very complex and the chances of success in a foreign court are uncertain. "The risk of incorrect treatment is immense," emphasize the authors of the foundation. Therefore: "Real patients do not belong in a virtual doctor's office," summed up the product testers.
The Center for Quality in Medicine sees the offer of "DrEd" as "adequate patient care not met in the beginning". Although patients can also have urine tests carried out, which are then sent to a laboratory or take pictures of their visible diseases and upload them online, these methods are much more cumbersome than "when the patient goes to the doctor around the corner". However, patients would turn to the portal who shy away from shame to the doctor due to an STD. This is where “DrEd” apparently wants to start. (sb)