In the know: Legality of health and wellness websites

In the know: Legality of health and wellness websites

When health consulting firms are legally liable

One thing the internet is notorious for is being a source of advice for our health and well-being.

No matter where we turn, there is someone with a website telling us what to do to lose weight, slow down aging, or cure our illnesses.

We all do it. 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. Then we take our results to our doctor and tell him what we have.

Unfortunately, health care professionals, doctors, therapists, nutritionists, and dietitians fight a daily battle with the misinformation that is provided on the Internet.

If you are a blogger and have some experience with health issues, you might want to share this information with the world.

Or you may be a professional with some education on certain health-related topics and want to use that information to boost your business online.

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 consulting and coaching businesses when providing health-related information on a website?

In recent years, there have been more than a few lawsuits that have resulted from sharing health and diet advice with others on the Internet.

In a recent lawsuit in North Carolina, a blogger changed his life and had an experience managing his type 1 diabetes by using the paleo diet. He blogged about his efforts, and when he was successful, 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 his experience for a fee.

North Carolina has a misdemeanor statute that prohibits the practice of dietetics or nutrition without a license. This blogger was charged with violating this law and the North Carolina Dietetics/Nutrition Board is now threatening him with jail time.

Research the rules and regulations of all governing bodies

When providing health and wellness information online, you need to make sure you follow all the rules.

Each governing body has separate rules about what information you can and cannot inform the public about their health.

Both Canada and the United States have specific federal laws, and then each province and state also have their own separate laws.

If you intend to provide information, then you should look up these laws according to where you live and where you do business. And to go even a step further, you need to consider your target audience.

A good guideline to follow if you are providing information on your health-related website is to ask yourself if you are specific to a particular personal health situation. The blogger in the North Carolina lawsuit did a good job of sharing his personal experience with the paleo diet.

His suggestions for exercise regimens or the provision of his personal diet plans on his health and nutrition website may have even been legal, but as soon as he began consulting individuals individually and giving advice, he was not sharing his personal experience and fell into the field of providing medical expertise in an area in which he was not legally certified to engage.

Remember, it’s one thing to give your opinion on a health-related topic or talk about your specific experience, but if you claim to be an expert on anything on your health and nutrition website, you may be held liable responsible of the boards responsible for governing public education on the subject and encountering legal problems.

You must not in any way claim or pretend to be something you are not if you intend to provide reliable health information.

If you are giving health or wellness advice, you should be very clear about your education and expertise, and also be very careful about the legal issues surrounding any advice you give.

This is where working with a professional web development company can help steer you in the right direction and make sure you don’t post anything that could get you into legal trouble while running your business. Consulting with an attorney who is well versed in these matters would also be very wise.

#Legality #health #wellness #websites

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