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In the Know: Health and Wellness Website Legalities

When health consulting firms are legally responsible

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

It doesn’t matter where we turn, there is someone with a website telling us what to do to lose weight, slow aging or treat our illnesses.

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We all do. We’re not feeling well, so we put our symptoms into “Dr. Google” and voila, thousands of results tell us we’ve got everything to live from a cold to 6 months. We then take our results to our doctor and tell him what we have.

Unfortunately, healthcare professionals, doctors, therapists, dietitians, and nutritionists struggle every day with misinformation being circulated on the internet.

If you’re a blogger and have some experience with health-related topics, you might want to share this information with the world.

Or maybe you are a professional with some training in certain health-related topics and you want to use this information to boost your online business.

Either way, you must be very careful to follow the rules when it comes to providing information and advice for health and wellness websites to the masses.

Legal responsibilities for the provision of health-related advice

So what are the legal questions for health consulting and coaching companies when providing health-related information on a website?

In recent years, there have been more than a few lawsuits stemming from sharing health and nutrition advice with others online.

In a recent North Carolina court case, a blogger turned life around and had experience treating his type 1 diabetes by adopting the Paleo diet. He blogged about his efforts and when he was successful, he took it a step further and started sharing his meal plans and workout schedules.

Eventually, he began offering one-on-one sessions for a fee to educate his readers about his experiences.

North Carolina has a misdemeanor statute that makes it unlawful to practice dietetics or nutrition without a license. This blogger has been accused of violating this law and the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is now threatening him with jail.

Find out about 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 share with the public regarding your health.

Canada and the United States both have specific federal laws and then each province and state has their own laws as well.

If you want to provide information, you’ll need to look up those laws depending on where you live and where you do business from. And to take it a step further, you need to consider the audience you are targeting.

A good guideline to follow when providing information on your health-related website is to ask yourself if you are referring to a specific personal health situation. The blogger in the North Carolina lawsuit did well to share his personal experience with the Paleo diet.

His suggestions for exercise programs or posting his personal nutrition plans on his health and nutrition website may have been fine even with the law, but once he started one-on-one with individuals and offering advice, he was no longer willing to share his personal experiences to share and fell into the realm of providing medical expertise in a field for which he was not legally licensed.

Remember, expressing your opinion on a health-related topic or reporting your specific experience is one thing, but if you claim to be an expert on anything on your health and nutrition website, you could be by the relevant bodies be held accountable regulate public education on the subject and encounter legal issues.

You must not claim or impersonate anything that you are not in any way if you are to provide reliable health information.

When you give health or wellness advice, you must be very specific about your education and expertise, and also be very careful about the legal issues surrounding your advice.

This is where working with a professional web development company could help steer you in the right direction and ensure you are not posting anything that could cause you legal problems in running your business. It would also be very wise to hire a lawyer who is knowledgeable about these matters.

Thanks to Susan Friesen

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