Legal implications of free medical advice over the internet.

I'm a licensed psychiatrist and I am thinking of dispensing free general mental health advice to the public over twitter. I am wondering if I can be taken to court in case someone follows my advice for the wrong problem and something goes wrong. And secondly, there are people who ask me specific questions about their psychiatric problem on twitter, publicly. If I answer them, would it be considered as a patient-doctor relationship and can my advice be used as evidence of providing care in a malpractice suit (if someone takes it to such an extreme)? In short, I am thinking of doing something like this website but in my profession in the interests of the people as a service but without getting myself into harm. Also, with twitter, there is no place to add a "legal disclaimer". Thank you.

Santa Monica, CA -

Attorney Answers (5)

Judy A. Goldstein

Judy A. Goldstein

Divorce / Separation Lawyer - Mokena, IL
Answered

Why would you risk your license by dispensing what you term advice? Have you not seen all the disclaimers here and on other sites where professionals offer suggestions? This is not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship has been established. Likewise, you should not dispense advice either. If this is a sincere question, you should consult directly with a lawyer and not rely on an online Q&A forum.

Avvo had a medical section but I believe it has been sold. You probably can find it and participate there. Your "suggestions" would be protected by their disclaimers. The goal is to minimuze your risk, not increase it.

Norman Antonio Stiteler

Norman Antonio Stiteler

Health Care Lawyer - Corrales, NM
Answered

In addition to the very good comments of the other attorneys, you should be aware that you might be considered to be practicing tele-medicine in those states in which the individuals live to whom you are giving this advice. You could run into significant licensure issues in that some of these states, which in turn could jeopardize your license in the state in which you practice.

In other words, 'Here be Dragons.'

I am licensed in New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and therefore any discussion of issues related to other states must... more
Paula Brown Sinclair

Paula Brown Sinclair

Social Security Lawyers - Twin Falls, ID
Answered

The suggestion that you can effectively tweet anything of value casts suspicion on your sincerity. Assuming you are, you should consider drawing a bright line between advice and information, as most of us do here on legal Avvo. Then, as a question of marketing, you would need to consider whether you have anything fresh or unique or valuable that is not already available online. The legal exposure is one large consideration, but one of several.

Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
Eric Jerome Gold

Eric Jerome Gold

Business Attorney - Calabasas, CA
Answered

MY colleagues are correct. Avvo 's medical forum is now under Healthtap. You may want to review their system to see if you are comfortable there. Otherwise, you spent a lot of time and money in school to put your profession at risk on Twitter.

** LEGAL DISCLAIMER ** My response above is not legal advice and it does not establish an attoreny-client... more
Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Health Care Lawyer - Hillsdale, MI
Answered

I agree with my learned colleague that you should consult with your attorney. If you can be a psychitrist in 140 characters, you should write a novel with that theme!

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I... more

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