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On a site like Health, it is particularly important to be able to identify which users have real qualifications and whose answers can be given more trust. I know it would be a new StackExchange network feature, and would be pretty difficult to verify, but still: should we have some kind of tag next to users of the site who have been verified as qualified physicians? Perhaps that would help people to have more confidence in their answers.

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    I wonder if it could be implemented similarly to the mod diamond... – Mooseman Mar 31 '15 at 19:44
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    How would you verify someone? Seems like there could be a lot of problems in determining who gets a tag. – Joe W Mar 31 '15 at 23:03
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No, we don't sanction one user over another based on their credentials. That is simply not how the Stack Exchange model works.

We — as a community — vet answers. This type of certification of users had been requested as recently as our Engineering site (Are expertise verified user flairs possible?), but we simply do not pre-qualify one user's participation over another based on who they are.

A user's answers — or anything written on the internet for that matter — should never be taken verbatim. You should remain skeptical and vet the information you see. Ask questions and clarify posts wherever you are able. It is that strong culture of peer review and wiki-style editing that makes this all work. And that is the strength of Stack Exchange.

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Few thoughts, even though I know this is a decided issue. I wouldn't post here if my credentials were added to my account. It seems like a legal nightmare for both US and Canadian residents (can't speak for the rest of the world) on regulations for medical advice. That fear is why I'm curious to see how this pans out, and more likely to participate in Bio.SE.

That said, I don't even think it's a good idea from an advice stand point. Hands down I would rather have a broken radius set by an ortho PA who did it all day than say an internist. A more extreme example is that I would prefer a paramedic who is used to doing several intubations than a dermatologist who did it a few times XX years ago.

This isn't to hate on the dermatologist or the internist, but rather, the best information might come from someone who does not have a MD.

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    The best information about a particular problem might well come from someone who doesn't have a MD, but that's neither here nor there. Making case law is. – anongoodnurse May 29 '15 at 19:05
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Unlike Computer Science, which is IMO undisputably the topic where Stack Exchange shines and has taken a leadership role, Healthcare has a completely different policy in decision-making. Decisions in medicine are FIRST based on previous experiences, and only SECOND on evidence. This may not be comprehensible to many at first glance, but evidence-based medicine is a relatively recent movement. Only little by little is medical science finding out why a treatment works the way it does, e. g. why Metamizole eases your headache. It is imperative to expand and improve this knowledge, of course. So what does lead to decisions in medicine, then? To share the knowledge based on experience, medicine still relies on a hierarchical system of teaching and books, which are basically also founded on previous hierarchies of experience, and only later at some point turned into evidence (or sometimes, of course, also refuted).

Which brings up the point: If Stack Exchange will only rely on evidence-based medicine, a large aspect of medicine will be deliberately left out just for shortening the discussion, leaving us with the least common denominator of information available. I understand that the goal is to keep the amount of misinformation and low-quality information as low as possible. Still, in my opinion, in such an experience-based field like medicine, admitting the registration of MDs would increase the significance of the answers, and the opposite would instead decrease Stack Exchange's significance so much that me personally, as a healthcare professional, I would have to discourage patients seeking for informations from using it.

Don't get me wrong: I couldn't be lobbying more for evidence-based medicine; but to find the best answers in healthcare, it simply isn't enough.

If an MD registration is not possible or wanted, at least the admittance of books instead of internet links as citations would be appropriate for increasing the significance of SE answers.

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  • I'm curious as to your viewpoint of liability of identified physicians? I, for one, don't want anyone tracking someone on the site down and offering to make case law. – anongoodnurse May 20 '15 at 22:17
  • You're right to think about legal questions, as it's often a problem; but I thought questions regarding personal health are off-topic anyway. I don't see how somebody could comprehensibly sue someone about a question regarding general knowledge (though in the US, I wouldn't exclude any lawsuit possibility... ;) ), as the responsibility for the application of general information is clearly in one's own hands. You could suit your school teachers on the same grounds for teaching you calculus wrong and now you're in debt. – cirko May 21 '15 at 6:22
  • "You could suit your school teachers on the same grounds for teaching you calculus wrong and now you're in debt." Thanks!!! Now I know how to get my kids' college tuition back! ;) Exactly; In the US, I wouldn't put it past anyone to try to sue an internet "physician". Pfft! How do they know it's true? Common sense doesn't always prevail, however. Case law is sometimes incredible. We'd like to get a disclaimer for the site up, though, just in case. – anongoodnurse May 21 '15 at 6:51
  • well a disclaimer wouldn't hurt for sure! – cirko May 21 '15 at 16:20

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