Medical teleconsultation to general practitioners reduces the medical error vulnerability of internal medicine patients

Published:August 29, 2015DOI:


      • e-Health strategies can improve the performance of health systems.
      • Medical teleconsultation is a component of the e-Health strategies.
      • Medical teleconsultation to general practitioners supports internal medicine case solving.
      • Medical teleconsultation reduces the medical error vulnerability of the patient.
      • Medical teleconsultation on a large scale may be supportive to the health system.



      e-Health strategies are supposed to improve the performance of national health systems. Medical teleconsultation (MT) is an important component of such e-Health strategies.


      The outcome of MT was evaluated with regard to the impact on the medical error vulnerability (MEV) of internal medicine patients.


      A team of internal medicine doctors plus a network of forty specialists was set-up in one health district belonging to a unified and universal national health system of a country of Western Europe, in order to provide free-of-charge MT to support general practitioners in solving internal medicine cases. In this observational study, the case series of 2013 is reviewed.


      a) Only 21% of the MT fell short to the general practitioner's expectations about the case solving focus; b) throughout the medical care process of the patient, 49% of the cases met with one or more of the five MEVs, namely: 1) clinical test mishandling; 2) inaccurate differential diagnosis; 3) inadequate information flow between health providers at different levels of care (transition care); 4) poor coordination between health providers; and 5) poor reconciliation of medications or hazardous therapies. c) MT canceled or prevented MEVs in 56% and mitigate MEVs in 15% of the cases; d) MT canceled or prevented 85% of MEV caused by poor information exchange in transition care, therefore improving patient referral and counter-referral.


      MT reduces MEV and therefore, whenever implemented to a large extent, may improve the quality of health care delivery and the performance of national health systems.


      GP (General practitioner), ICT (Information and communication technologies), MEV (Medical error vulnerability), MT (Medical teleconsultation), WHO (World Health Organization), ITU (International Technology Unit)


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