When healthcare consulting firms are legally liable
One thing the internet is infamous for is being a source of advice for our health and well-being.
No matter where we turn, there is someone with a website that tells us what to do to lose weight, slow aging, or treat our illnesses.
we all do. We don’t feel well, so we type our symptoms into “Dr. Google” and voila, thousands of results tell us we have everything from the common cold to 6 months to live. We then take our results to our doctor and tell him what we have.
Unfortunately, professionals in the health care industry, doctors, therapists, dietitians, and nutritionists struggle every day with misinformation that is provided on the Internet.
If you are a blogger and have some experience in health related topics, you might want to share this information with the world.
Or, you may be a professional with some education in certain health-related topics, and you want to use that information to boost your online business.
Either way, you have to be very careful to follow the rules when it comes to providing health and wellness website information and advice to the masses.
Legal responsibilities for providing health-related advice
So what are the legal issues for health advisory and consulting companies to provide health related information on a website?
There have been more than a few lawsuits in recent years that stemmed from sharing health and diet advice with others on the Internet.
In a recent lawsuit in North Carolina, a blogger had her life changed and experience managing her type 1 diabetes using the Paleo diet. He blogged about his efforts and, when he succeeded, he took his blog a step further and began sharing his meal plans and exercise regimens.
Eventually, he began providing one-on-one sessions to advise his readers on the ways of their experience for a fee.
In North Carolina, there is a misdemeanor law that makes it illegal to practice dietetics or nutrition without a license. This blogger was charged with violating this law and is now threatened with prison by the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition.
Research the rules and regulations of all governing bodies
When providing health and wellness information online, you must ensure that you follow all the rules.
Each governing body has separate rules about what information can and cannot advise the public regarding their health.
Canada and the United States have specific federal laws and then each province and state also have their own separate laws.
If you are going to provide information, you should look up those laws based on where you live and from where you are doing business. And to go a step further, you need to consider your target audience.
A good guideline to follow if you provide information on your health-related website is to ask yourself if you are being specific to a particular personal health situation. The blogger in the North Carolina lawsuit was doing well to provide his personal experiences with the Paleo diet.
His suggestions for exercise regimens or providing his personal diet plans on his health and nutrition website may have even been okay with the law, but as soon as he started consulting with people one-on-one and providing advice, he was more beyond sharing your personal experience. and he fell into the realm of providing medical expertise in an area in which he was not legally certified to engage.
Remember, giving your opinion on a health-related topic or recounting your specific experience is one thing, but if you claim to be an expert on something on your health and nutrition website, the boards responsible for governing public education on the subject and run into legal issues.
You should in no way claim or impersonate anything you are not going to provide reliable health information.
If you are giving health or wellness advice, you need to be very clear about your education and experience, and also be very careful about the legal issues surrounding any advice you give.
This is where working with a professional web development company could help point you in the right direction and ensure you don’t post anything that could get you into legal trouble while operating your business. Consulting a lawyer who is well versed in these matters would also be very careful.