Would mandatory national licensure, in the context of the practice of telemedicine, potentially help reduce malpractice lawsuits?
A license to practice medicine does not indemnify a physician or medical facility against lawsuits for malpractice. It is unlikely, therefore, that a national licensure program designed to address the growing role of telemedicine in heath care would shield physicians and hospitals from malpractice suits.
A license to practice medicine, required in every state, is just that: the state government's permission for a doctor to treat patients within the borders of that state. It in no way protects that doctor from bearing responsibility for mistakes he or she may make in treating a patient. They are two entirely unrelated things.
Is it conceivable the federal government could pass a law licensing cross-border medical practices such as are used in telemedicine in a way that indemnified physicians from malpractice suits? In this educator's opinion the answer is "no." Patients and consumer rights groups would vehemently oppose any such legislation, and Congress would be highly unlikely to entertain the notion that the federal government, of which it is a major part, should bear financial responsibility for mistakes made by physicians, even if licensed to practice across state-lines.