11

Near the beginning of Health SE's private beta, a discussion about whether or not we should have a disclaimer came up. There were people voting that we should have a disclaimer (+10/-2) and people for the other side, that we don't need one (+9/-0).

Though this decision has not been officially made, we believe it may be best to include one. Many prominent health sites also have medical disclaimers and the opinion that we should have a disclaimer for Health SE has been voiced by many of the medical professionals on this site (see here).

Through much deliberation in our Health SE moderator chat room, we have come up with this short disclaimer. We would like it to be on every page, somewhere where it doesn't ruin the page, but is still easily visible to everyone that visits that page.

Health SE is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for care from a qualified provider. Often there are factors that are relevant for diagnosis and treatment that you may not be aware of or may not think to include when asking. For this reason, we cannot offer personalized advice.

This is again showing everyone that comes to this site that we cannot and will not give personal medical advice (see this meta discussion for more).

This idea is still in the works, though. We have gotten approval from the Stack Exchange community moderators, but we are still missing some things. Firstly, we want approval from the community. We are also still looking for ideas on where to place the disclaimer in a way that is clear, but unobtrusive.

We are open to any ideas from the community. Please use this post to bring up any suggestions, ideas, or other noteworthy discussions about this.

  • It seems to lack the "some of us aren't actually trained doctors" part that I've seen in other disclaimers. Is this intentional? – bjb568 May 28 '15 at 2:40
  • 2
    @bjb568: Though there are some trained medical professionals here on Health SE, even they can't provide perfectly reliable answers when they don't have enough details. Better than a layperson's answer? Probably, but it still can't be completely trusted. – michaelpri May 28 '15 at 2:42
  • so, any consensus here? – Ooker Jun 7 '15 at 9:12
  • @Ooker I believe that we are going to try it out. Still working on the logistics of it, though (ie: where to place). – michaelpri Jun 7 '15 at 17:15
  • Two common place is the top bar and the side bar. It can be a full disclaimer or just one sentence and link to a full one in meta post. – Ooker Jun 8 '15 at 2:44
11

The company recently had the opportunity to sit down with a real life lawyer to poke his brains on a few legal questions lingering across the network. Proper guidance on the Law and Health sites came up.

Good news: The sidebar disclaimer you devised is excellent -- it goes above and beyond what most user generated content companies do.

But as you probably know, once you stir the nest the lawyers start buzzing. It's their job to be extra safe, and so they provided us with a modified sidebar disclaimer, plus a General Disclaimer that we'll be adding to the Help Center in the next few days. This Help Center article will be linked from the sidebar disclaimer.

The new disclaimer:

Health Stack Exchange is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for individualized diagnosis and treatment by a qualified healthcare provider. Communications on Health Stack Exchange are not privileged communications and do not create a doctor-patient relationship.

The new Help Center article, which serves as a General Disclaimer:

The information, advice, links and/or any other materials (“Content”) made available through Health Stack Exchange (the “Site”) are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medial advice, diagnosis, treatment or consultation. You should contact a qualified licensed medial provider to obtain advice with respect to any important medical issue or problem. Do not disregard or delay in obtaining professional advice based on any Content from the Site. Content may not be complete, correct, or up to date, and some Content may be obtained or provided without proper citation or review. Content made available through the Site does not represent endorsements or recommendations by Stack Exchange or other users. Use of and access to the Site or any Content on the Site, or any of the e-mail, website, social media or other like links contained within the Site, do not create an doctor-patient relationship between those posing or responding to inquiries, or any other users, even if licensed individuals in the corresponding fields are involved in such use. Further, these are not privileged communication, and no right to privacy exists. Any opinions expressed are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of Stack Exchange, or other users. All users of the Site relinquish any or all claims against Stack Exchange, the party providing the Content, and any other users that may arise from reliance on any information obtained from the Site. Reliance on any information appearing on the Site is solely at your own risk.

I wanted to let you know about these changes before they go live. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

  • Thanks for checking. Your use of "Law Stack Exchange" in the longer form is a typo, right? (I'm assuming it's backed by the $sitename variable used in some Help Center pages?) – Monica Cellio Nov 18 '15 at 1:24
  • Good catch @MonicaCellio. Edited. – samthebrand Nov 18 '15 at 2:01
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    Very nice! "Does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship" is a nice touch. Thanks much. – anongoodnurse Nov 18 '15 at 5:32
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    Yeah some how it didn't even occur to me to mention privileged communication. I hear muses calling out a poem titled "When HIPPA Came to Exchange." – Atl LED Nov 18 '15 at 13:27
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I am on board with all of the thoughts offered by michaelpri in the question here. One variation of this idea is to have a somewhat shorter ‘site usage guideline’* for broadcasting diffusely complemented by a longer explanation in the FAQ. The shorter version is intended to be something that everyone asking questions would be forced to see, and perhaps it could be linked to the FAQ explanation.

My proposal for the shorter version:

Health.SE is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for individualized diagnosis and treatment by a qualified healthcare provider.


*I prefer to avoid the term disclaimer because it implies that the primary purpose of this is to eschew responsibility. In fact, it is meant to educate users on appropriate usage of the site. What we call it matters not-at-all for the implementation of this part since no title is required. It might be of interest for naming the FAQ section, however.

  • It's widely known as a disclaimer; nearly everything (even my new car displays a disclaimer when I turn it on) now carries one. I think the word might be important from a legal standpoint. – anongoodnurse May 29 '15 at 19:12
  • @Susan, You can rename "disclaimer" to "obligatory disclaimer" to prevent it from sounding like "eschewing responsibility". – Pacerier Jun 3 '15 at 19:57
-2

FYI here is the disclaimer that https://www.reddit.com/r/AskDocs/ use (showed to the OP whenever they ask a question):

Thank you for your submission. Please note that a response does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. This subreddit is for informal second opinions and casual information. The mod team does their best to remove bad information, but we do not catch all of it. Always visit a doctor in real life if you have any concerns about your health. Never use this subreddit as your first and final source of information regarding your question. By posting, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and understand that all information is taken at your own risk.

I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.

They have another disclaimer on their side bar:

This subreddit is not a replacement for a doctor. This subreddit is here for informal second opinions, and minor problems that you wouldn't go to the doctor for anyway.

!LEGAL DISCLAIMER!

Our Terms Of Use

The statements of anonymous people on the internet is not a substitute for medical care, if your condition is worsening please go to your primary care provider, If you are having an emergency please go to the nearest hospital or call your location's emergency number (911) in the USA, (999) in Britain, (112) in most of the European union, (000) in Australia, and (111) in New Zealand.*

Even though some members of this subreddit are medical professionals, you are taking their advice AT YOUR OWN RISK.

  • The sidebar disclaimer you have here is very badly put together. It is suggesting to contact your doctor or emergency services, but also poo-poos the disclaimer with the idea at the top that the site is for "informal second opinions, and minor problems you wouldn't go to the doctor for anyway". This creates a big legal minefield. Not a good suggestion for anyone to use. – Chris Rogers Apr 11 at 7:20

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