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Teladoc Sues Rival Over Hospital Robot Patents

Teladoc Health Inc.,


TDOC 7.20%

the country’s largest publicly traded telemedicine provider, has sued rival

American Well Corp.


AMWL 0.07%

for alleged patent violations related to technology behind robot-like carts that connect hospitalized patients with specialists in real time via video.

The patent-infringement suit, filed Monday in a Delaware district court, relates to nine patents Teladoc says it owns. The filing asks for unspecified damages as well as action permanently barring Amwell from the alleged infringement.

The dispute between the two remote-care companies comes as competition intensifies in a corner of the U.S. health-care system that has received a jolt from regulatory changes aimed at easing access to care during the pandemic.

A federal action that allowed remote-care visits to be reimbursed by insurers at the same rate as in-person visits drove record numbers of patients to connect with doctors via telehealth services and videoconferencing tools like Zoom. Remote-care visits are now used for primary and urgent care as well as to keep patients with mild Covid-19 cases out of hospitals or monitor those with severe cases who have been discharged and are convalescing at home.

Telehealth boosters say virtual visits, which many patients were slow to adopt before the pandemic, promise to extend the reach of doctors and specialists beyond their physical footprint, which may improve accessibility of care in remote places.

The patents at issue in the Teladoc suit stem from a company called InTouch Technologies Inc. that it agreed to buy in January. Acquiring the remote-care company helped Teladoc build out its ability to connect patients in hospitals with specialists using video screens mounted on carts that can be wheeled around health-care facilities.

For example, a doctor connected via video through a tablet mounted on a cart could oversee an exam in a hospital room while instructing a nurse or colleague to collect relevant treatment and health data—and also talk to the patient. Some of these robot-like carts include digital stethoscopes and thermal cameras.

Demand Surges for Telemedicine

Such services offer an opportunity for telehealth companies to forge new relationships with large hospital systems and can help those organizations expand their offerings.

“Our team is in the process of reviewing the allegations. We believe that these claims lack merit and intend to defend against them vigorously,” said an Amwell spokeswoman.

A Teladoc spokesman said the company is confident its rival is infringing on the patents in the lawsuit.

Teladoc facilitated 2.7 million visits in the quarter ending June 30, while Amwell’s platform enabled 2.2 million, according to regulatory filings. Neither company has yet achieved profitability.

Teladoc wrote to Amwell last month notifying the company that some of its products, including telemedicine carts, infringed on its patents and asked the company to immediately stop selling, making and using them.

The patents relate to products that accounted for about 5% of Amwell’s revenue in 2019, the company said at the time. It offers Carepoint kiosks and carts in settings like emergency rooms and health clinics that also connect patients

Family sues Tyson Foods for negligence after employee dies of virus

The children of Pedro Cano claim the meatpacking facility their father worked at did not have appropriate precautions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus

The family of a man who worked for Tyson Foods has pressed charges against the company after he died of coronavirus earlier this year.

Pedro Cano, 51, was a meatpacker working “elbow-to-elbow,” the suit claims, with fellow maskless and gloveless employees at a pork processing plant in eastern Iowa in April when he contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel virus that has thrown the world into a pandemic.

A lawsuit is accusing Tyson of “gross negligence” after not informing factory workers of proper safety precautions to prevent being exposed to the virus.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The plant closed down in early April after more employees tested positive for the potentially deadly disease, as reported by the Des Moines Register.

READ MORE: 97-year-old North Carolina woman beats coronavirus

By April 10, Cano had to be hospitalized. He died from complications of coronavirus on April 14, according to Sioux City Journal.

According to the Des Moines Register, Tyson Foods had created a coronavirus taskforce back in January, and Tyson Foods posted a statement that corporate employees were to work from home as early at March 17.

However, plants and factories were deemed essential and remained open in order to send food to grocery stores.

The Columbus Junction, Iowa plant was the first in the state to report positive cases of coronavirus. Although Tyson implemented more safety precautions at other plants after the Columbus Junction factory shut down, coronavirus would spread to plants in the Iowa cities of Perry, Waterloo and Storm Lake.

READ MORE: Trump halts COVID-19 relief talks until after election

When the Columbus Junction plant closed on April 6, 24 Tyson employees of the Iowa plants tested positive, at first. That number later grew to 522.

Cano’s family is suing Tyson Foods because it failed to comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, which stated on March 9 that employers were to provide employees with protective equipment and education on how to prevent transmitting the virus.

The grievance states that Tyson Foods “had not provided adequate training or instruction” to Cano and his co-workers to “minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.” It also states Tyson failed to “provide reasonable screening of employees arriving for their shifts for symptoms of COVID-19.”

The lawsuit was issued by Cano’s three adult children, Jennifer, Kimberly and Peter.

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The post Family sues Tyson Foods for negligence after employee dies of virus appeared first on TheGrio.

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