Sticky request...

Dear Mods,

Can’t we puh-leeeeze have a sticky about asking questions that should be directed to real, live, medical professionals?

It’s becoming frighteningly obvious that a number of people think that an open web forum is a good place to ask for medical advice for humans and pets.

On a legal note, isn’t at least a disclaimer in order… just to be safe in the event of malpractice suits?

This does not belong in GQ.

I’ll move it to ATMB for you.

General Questions Moderator

Generally, when we see such questions, we try to be sure to tell 'em to ask a doctor.

Amazing how many people think they can ask a forum for medical advice, legal advice, etc. We sort of think this is so obvious that it doesn’t need a special sticky. Kind of like, “Do not drop heavy objects on your foot.”

Well, crap. Now you tell me.

As for a disclaimer, there is this in the Registration Agreement:

As one of the people who asked for medical advice…

A forum is about ten thousand times more accessable/approachable than a doctor (at least it is where I live) and some questions are quite likely to be answerable accurately by boards with as many members as this one. Some of those members being medical professionals.

I can’t see any harm in it if the question is something like “what are the risks of laser-eye surgery”. But if the question is “There’s a bone sticking out of my leg. Is that normal?” then yes, it is a bit silly.

Also - most people are not silly enough to take as gospel the advice they are given here (I hope). The question I asked was if something I don’t do, but have the oportunity to do, would benefit me. If someone had said “I reccomend you take the whole bottle, and drink a full bottle of whisky with it too. That will help you sleep” I don’t think I’d trust that advice.

Furthermore - I expect most, if not all medical questions asked are out of curiosity/interest rather than out of necesity. People should feel free to ask such questions, Not be told they can’t do it by a sticky.

How about an addition to the FAQ that reads something like this:

“We are fortunate to have medical and legal professionals on this board who are willing to share their expertise with members. All members are cautioned that, while their information is provided based on their professional knowledge and the facts provided in the individual circumstance to which they respond, such advice is in no way a substitute for an in-person consultation with a medical or legal professional practicing in the poster’s own area. Neither the Chicago Reader nor its professional members incurs any liability for advice given in posts on this board by a person who is or purports to be a medical doctor or an attorney.”

There is a real value in having someone like Qadgop the Mercotan being able to say “Well, cramps in your big toe don’t sound like a life-threatening emergency. Soak your toe in hot water, take a non-prescription painkiller, and see a physician after the long weekend” vs. “With the two heart attacks you mention, that pain and feeling of intense pressure in your left shoulder sounds like angina – get to an emergency room as quickly as you safely can to have it checked out” – or Dewey Cheatem Undhow commenting, “In most jurisdictions you have only thirty days to [perfect an appeal/challenge an administrative ruling] in a case like this, and a lawyer will need some time to research out case law and write up an appropriate [appeal/challenge]. I suggest you consult with a local bar member as soon as possible.”

At the same time, gluteus maximus is correct in saying that legal and medical advice over the Internet is generally not something that anyone should rely on. It happens I know two physicians and a couple of lawyers from this board personally and can vouch for their reliability – but nothing but his personal ethics stops handy (to pick a member at random) from presenting himself as an expert endocrinologist and giving advice he has pulled from his rectal aperture.

Our professional members are generally quick to always include the disclaimer to consult with a professional “in real time” on a face-to-face basis. But it would certainly be wise to have a post – in the FAQ, perhaps also as part of a sticky in GQ – with an appropriate disclaimer for the board as an entity and also for the protection of both the professionals and those who tap their advice.

Where does common sense leave off around here?

Apparently it goes a lot less further than I thought.

How far are we supposed to go here?

Finally, when are actions exempted from consequences?

While we want people to do good and have fun here, at the same time, we do expect you to have a brain cell or two and not make foolish choices.

And I got to tell you, at least from where I’m standing these days, I believe life is hard – and it’s harder when you’re dumb. And perhaps you have to live through those consequences to finally get a clue.

There’s quite a bit of common sense in our registration agreement. You can read it any time. What you do about it is entirely up to you.

your humble TubaDiva
Use wisely your power of choice.

I often come to the Internet after an unsatisfying trip to the doctors office. Sometimes the best answers come from other people who have been through the experience already.

I dont see an issue with this…

<< I often come to the Internet after an unsatisfying trip to the doctors office. Sometimes the best answers come from other people who have been through the experience already. >>

I think that’s an attitude that is potentially perilous. If you mean, you come from the doctor’s with a specific diagnosis that you’ve got chronic tonsilitis (or whatever), and you want to talk to others to hear their experiences with such a disease, that’s one thing. That’s sharing experiences and looking for support, and is certainly a legit board function.

But if you’ve got a sore throat and the doctor is unable to pinpoint anything, and you’re looking for diagnosis from the board, that’s something quite else, and dangerous.