Telemedicine as a Medical Examination Tool During the Covid-19 Emergency: The Experience of the Onco-Haematology Center of Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 27;17(23):8834. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17238834.


Background: Our study analysed the outpatient activity of the onco-hematology Complex Operative Unit (UOC) of Tor Vergata Hospital, Rome coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) center, where, as a result of the sudden and unexpected emergency, healthcare services were provided through telemedicine procedures that can be considered very close to Telehealth.

Aim of the study: our retrospective study aimed to assess the widespread use of telemedicine in terms of feasibility and safety related to adverse events, a crucial experience which will make it possible to predict any effective use of such a method in patients with hematological disorders even after the end of the Covid-19 emergency.

Materials and methods: At the Day Hospital clinic, from 8 March to 31 May 2020, an outpatient group received 3828 medical teleconsultations and 11,484 additional contacts following the first examination; each patient examined through the telematic method required an average of three supplementary contacts via e-mail or telephone.

Results: The follow-up lasted 145 days, and all the events that occurred were monitored. In total, we recorded 16 clinical adverse events, 5 of which classified as major events, and 11 as minor events.

Conclusion: The 3828 telematic clinical examinations and the 11,484 additional contacts following the first examination carried out by the onco-haematology UOC of Tor Vergata Hospital, proved how telemedicine, albeit in its basic form, was a key tool in facing the sanitary emergency caused by the sudden spread of Covid-19. An experience that can be considered reliable enough to be replicated in possible post-Covid-19 emergencies. From a medical forensic point of view, the main issues to consider are informed consent, personal data management and professional responsibility profiles.

Keywords: COVID-19; ethics; legal medicine; onco-haematology; telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Hematology / trends*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rome
  • Telemedicine*