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.Reading the answers by Ms. Goldstein, Ms. Sinclair, Mr. Gold, Mr. Poulson and Mr. Stiteler make me realize I did not come off the right way. To clarify, I do not intend to run an online practice. It is just that I am quite well-known in my field and a lot of people on twitter know who I am. They keep asking me questions pertaining to my profession (more mental health than outright psychiatry though), I keep ignoring them and I feel bad that I am not helping them when I can. I am certain I can give them general medical advice pertaining to their question without going into the specifics of the case in 140 characters. My question is whether or not such an advice would be classified as a "physician curbside consult" or would be considered a "doctor-patient relation" and hence make me liable. I definitely would not want to risk my license but if I "can" help those people seeking my help take the first step towards better mental health without any liability, I would like to do it.