How to write a medical blog/podcast disclaimer

Hey everybody,

Inspired by Brent Thoma at boringem.org (@boringEM)- I’ve decided to write a post on how you can construct a disclaimer for your medical blog or podcast.  This can be an important part of your site and can provide some limited protection against legal issues.  So instead of FOAM, consider this FOAD- Free and Open Access Disclaimer.  Feel free to copy and paste any sections of my disclaimer if you want.

First- a disclaimer on the disclaimer.  This is not legal advice.  I had a practicing US attorney review my disclaimer and he thought it was on solid ground legally.  This being said- no disclaimer can be 100% protective against all legal actions and there is always a way around any type of disclaimer.  I also can’t attest to how this disclaimer would play outside of the US legal system.  However, any lawyer would agree that having a disclaimer is always a good idea.

For this post- I will review each section of my disclaimer with the thought process behind it followed by the actual text of my own disclaimer for the blog/podcast.

To get started- the first step is to make sure that your disclaimer is easily visible on your front page.  I list mine under the “About and Disclaimers” on the front page.

The next tip is to separate any disclaimers into sections.  My first one is the PODCAST and BLOG disclaimer.  This is mostly a free flowing description of what I am presenting.  In my case- “I am simply presenting my views on how to workup common ED complaints that will be as evidence based as possible.”  You should also mention not to use this blog/podcast as medical advice to treat yourself or others.  It’s also a good idea to spell out that you don’t accept money from drug or device companies to maintain impartiality.

PODCAST and BLOG disclaimer: While I make every effort to broadcast correct information, I am still learning.  I will double check all my facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art.  One doctor may have a different way of doing things from another.  I am simply presenting my views on how to workup common ED complaints that will be as evidence based as possible. I welcome any comments, suggestions, or correction of errors.  I take no money from drug or device companies.  By listening to this podcast or reading this blog, you agree not to use this podcast or blog as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or others, including but not limited to patients that you are treating.  Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having.  This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast or blog.  Under no circumstances shall Stephen Carroll, EM Basic LLC, any guests or contributors to the podcast or blog, or any employees, associates, or affiliates of EM Basic LLC be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast or blog.

Legal Disclaimer- I put this in after a rather interesting situation.  A person from a law office contacted me regarding one of my podcasts.  According to them, an expert witness quoted my podcast as a basis for expert witness testimony.  At first, I was flattered that my podcast would be used for expert witness testimony but I was also  horrified to think that there was an “expert” witness quoting a blog and podcast titled EM BASIC whose tag line was “Your boot camp guide to Emergency Medicine.”  This section addresses that specific concern.

ADDITIONAL LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This blog or podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony.  No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast or blog.

Employer/General Disclaimer: You probably aren’t blogging/podcasting to represent your employer and you should spell that out to make sure people understand that and you protect your current employment.  Of course, it’s also a good idea to talk to your employer about your blogging/podcasting ahead of time as well.  I take this one step further by including a verbal disclaimer in each of my podcasts but that is probably overkill.

General DISCLAIMER: This blog and podcast are my own opinions and do not represent the views or opinions of the Department of Defense, the US army, the SAUSHEC EM residency, or the Fort Hood post command.

Privacy notice: Privacy of online and medical information is very important to your users so it’s important to spell out that out.  You should let your readers/listeners know that what you post is HIPPA complaint for those in the United States.  Privacy of email addresses is also important.

Privacy notice: This website, blog, and podcast are all HIPPA compliant.  While you may give your email address to subscribe to the website posts or to post information on the website/blog, I will never share your email address or contact information with any third parties without your explicit permission.

Advertising policy: If you accept any advertising money, spell it out here.  If you don’t it’s also important to state that you don’t accept any advertising money.  This will help you maintain credibility and impartiality.

Advertising policy:  At the present time, the EM Basic blog, website, and podcast does not accept any advertising money.  If this changes, this will be spelled out directly via a post to the blog/website and the podcast.

Copyright information: In the spirit of Free and Open Access Medical Education (#FOAMed) you want to make your content freely and readily available but no one should steal your content either.  Make sure to spell out that your materials are copyrighted by yourself or any LLC/corporation that you have set up for your blog/podcast.  If you want people to freely distribute your material, just state that your name (or your website/podcast/corporation name) needs to be included on the materials.

Copyright and distribution info: The contents of the EM Basic Blog, EM Basic Podcast, and the EM Basic show notes are all copyrighted, EM Basic LLC.  All blog posts, podcasts, and show notes that are distributed to the public for free can be re-distributed via hard copy or electronic copy for free ONLY if “EM Basic” is included as the acknowledged author within the actual media that is re-distributed.

Want another example of a disclaimer?  Check out the disclaimer page for the EMCrit podcast.

I hope this helps you with development of your own website’s disclaimer.  Please comment or send feedback to steve@embasic.org.

-Steve


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