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A user asked a question requesting personal medical advice, and it was closed. Since then, it has been edited such that it is very generic and does not include any personal details.

Can the question be reopened?

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2 Answers 2

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Yes

The question can be reopened assuming it adheres to the other requirements of our community.

As long as the question no longer contains a request for personal medical advice, demonstrates an attempt at prior research, is properly scoped, and is otherwise on topic, it can be re-opened.

If you have sufficient reputation, please flag for reopening or cast a re-open vote.

The reasoning for this policy is because:

  1. The Stack Exchange philosophy suggests that questions should be judged based on their own merits not based on the user that asked them.
  2. Questions belong to the community, not exclusively to the question author. All that matters is if the current state of the question is on-topic; the history is of no consequence.
  3. Law Stack Exchange also struggles with questions requesting personal legal advice. They allow editing out the personal aspects of a question, and this appears to work well for them.
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  • With Law.SE allowing reopening of edited personal legal advice questions, these questions surely are not likely to cause physical harm like a personal medical advice question. Answering a question from someone who is really looking for an answer to their medical issues with an answer which may not be right for them individually can lead to great harm, and in extremes, death. I wouldn't want that on my conscience. May 16 at 4:34
  • Point no.1 is very weak in my opinion. A questioner disguising a personal medical advice question is still seeking personal medical advice. May 16 at 4:36
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    Ultimately, I voted for this option for the words "can be"; I think situations where it is appropriate are rare but do occur. I do not think we can be in the business of following posters around and making sure new, on-topic questions aren't posted by old, off-topic question-posters, so while my defenses are always going to be higher immediately after someone has posted an off-topic advice question, if it's edited within guidelines I don't see how it's fruitful to treat it differently than a new question posed the same way would be.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    May 27 at 16:59
  • I'm a bit wary of applying the "I know it when I see it" doctrine here, but I think it's usually possible to sniff out when people are looking for actual advice versus understanding. Sometimes they'll trick us, though, and I don't think the solution of "keep all medical information among a black-box of medical professionals so that no one can possibly harm themselves with that information" is a good one for society, either.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    May 27 at 17:02
  • @BryanKrause Exactly! Questions like „Help I have prostate cancer should I get radiated or operared?“ can easily be reworked as „What are the advantages/disadvantages of Rdx vs surgery“ and then can nicely be answered with a link to any of the newer Meta analyses. This empowers and enables the OP, and doesn’t actually offer medical advice to them. I remember that we had a few cases of such questions at some point but unsure if I can find them.
    – Narusan
    May 27 at 20:09
  • Of course, the „Burning sensation in hip what could it be“ questions can just be closed and deleted immediately
    – Narusan
    May 27 at 20:10
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No

Once closed, personal medical advice questions should not be reopened.

Please do not flag or vote for reopening, as such questions are permanently off-topic.

The reasoning for this policy is because:

  1. The question author previously indicated their intent to seek personal medical advice. Editing the question does not change that intent.
  2. We have an ethical responsibility to not provide personal medical advice even if the request is disguised. Answering an author's question without access to their full medical history, physical and diagnostic studies is dangerous.
  3. For licensed medical providers in some jurisdictions, providing medical advice may open them up to liability. To create a welcoming environment for medical professionals, we should fully prohibit personal medical advice.
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    I voted yes, but want to address the fact that one can answer a reframed medical question without giving specific advice. I've edited such questions and done it. And, as I've said before, I don't mind giving medical advice as long as it's good medical advice (which is why we need reliable sources, properly interpreted.) We are not likely to be open to liability 1) because in most locations, the necessary dr/pt relationship doesn't exist, 2) most of the questions are trivial, and 3) we (should) have/add a disclaimer. Apr 5 at 1:09
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    I will agree with you that in an alternative reality where Medical Sciences is the MathOverflow of medicine, that we could potentially determine what good medical advice is. Unfortunately, Stack Exchange isn't really set up for this. An ardent believer in homeopathy that wondered in from (random example) World Building has the same upvote as an experienced researcher in virology. I also agree that the risk of liability is minuscule; however, I don't think it's zero.
    – Ian Campbell Mod
    Apr 5 at 14:09
  • I addressed this at the very beginning. That's why one of the medical mods simply disappeared, and why I did way too much work here/got too heavily invested. Personally, I have never thought SE was the place for Health/Medicine. You're preaching to the choir. Apr 5 at 15:41
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    As an example of how daunting a task a good answer is, the CM who helped set up the site and who should have known better gave an answer that was completely wrong, cited Huff post as their source (lol!) and forced me to give the correct answer (as I said: I worked too hard here. Had to right the wrongs/fight the good fight, etc. ad infinitum.) Apr 5 at 15:43
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    Anybody can sue anyone for anything, but making a suit count is another story. Medical professionals' fear of lawsuits from providing internet advice are hugely overblown. To be sued for providing medical advice (in the US) requires first and foremost that a provider-patient relationship exists. Did you agree to accept them as a patient and charge them money? If not then suit dismissed. That's why Dr. Oz can get on TV and give all the crazy advice he wants without fear because he has no doctor-patient relationship with the audience. This whole liability worry is mostly just myth.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Apr 12 at 0:48
  • I can see the point made by @CareyGregory here but to me, if we are going to give answers to questions which are historically personal medical advice questions, and you know you cannot properly assess that person, how can you provide the information and abide by the Hypocratic Oath of first do no harm? I think this is a slippery slope we should not be going down. May 16 at 4:12
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    @ChrisRogers Make no mistake, I agree with you completely. I think a medical advice question should not be eligible for reopening.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    May 16 at 5:18

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