Our Blogs

Should Your Physician Trust Fitbit?

Written by Berkowitz

fitbitYou may assume that your doctor could benefit from your Fitbit data, but there are plenty of physicians who shy away from using personal fitness devices to help diagnose a patient. While the data can be up to the physician’s discretion, most will not use a consumer-grade wearable device to determine critical care – especially in an emergency situation.

While Fitbit is an approved medical device that has gone through testing, software updates, and accuracy tests, it is not necessarily a medical device for diagnostics. The Fitbit can, however, tell the difference between heart rhythms, and help count steps, as well as sleep patterns.

A Successful Case?

There was a case published by Forbes.com that discussed a patient who encountered a seizure. The patient was brought into the ER and was quickly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. His heart rate was treated with rate-suppressing medications, which lowered his heart rate successfully, but the beat was irregular. The medical staff then decided to take steps to help the heart beat at a normal manner. Fitbit cannot distinguish between a high heart rate and abnormal rhythm, but the ER physician in this case still used the Fitbit data from that day to determine the time when the atrial fibrillation started.

While this was a successful case, it is not by any means proof that Fitbit data can save a patient’s life, nor that it should be used by medical professionals in an emergency situation. Just because one case did not go wrong does not mean that others would not go horribly wrong – especially because it is clear that the Fitbit doesn’t recognize faster beats versus irregular beats.

Activity Trackers Are Not Diagnostic Tools

Receiving a patient’s data from his or her Fitbit or other activity trackers does not give the full picture to a physician. Instead, physicians still need to rely on medically approved tests to determine what is wrong with the patient – these could include a CT scan, MRI scan, oxygen saturation rates, basic vitals, and even monitoring the patient’s heart rate.

When a physician relies solely on Fitbit and other activity trackers for this information, he or she is putting patients at risk – especially because Fitbit is not approved for professional healthcare use. If the same patient in that ER had died, the doctor would most likely face a medical malpractice claim, because he did not follow the standard of medical care – and that standard requires proper testing.

Some physicians are allowing their patients to use their Fitbit data to help monitor conditions over time. In fact, high-risk patients may be hooked up to their electronic tracker so that physicians can research the ups and downs of their condition. The Fitbit data in these cases could be beneficial, but again, it is not a substitute for approved medical testing.

Did Your Physician Fail to Perform Proper Testing?

When a physician fails to diagnose properly or rely on medical tests to come to the right diagnosis, a patient could suffer from serious injury – or death. If you or a loved one suffered such injuries because your physician acted negligently, you could be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice claim. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Contact us online to get started.