Medical Information vs. Medical Advice
May 13, 1998
I always appreciate your tremendous work in this forum. However, I just want to make my personal suggestion on this forum. It seems to me that there are certain "patterns" in your responses and also seems there is a certain "boundary" in answers. I fully understand the reason behind it (because this forum is supposed to provide general information, not individual medical advice), but I'd like to ask you to provide a little more real life and specific advice with your readers.
Response from Mr. Sowadsky
Hi. Thank you for your comments. When I answer a question, I choose my wording very carefully. The "boundary" you are referring to, is the boundary between giving medical information and giving medical advice. Let me briefly review with you the difference between medical information and medical advice.
Medical information is very general in nature. It does not apply to just one person. It applies to many different people. Medical advice takes medical information, and applies that information to one specific person. Let me give you some examples that show the difference between medical information and medical advice.
An example of medical information: If a person has been diagnosed with Genital Warts, some treatment options include the use of Imiquimod, Podophyllin, Podofilox, TCA, cryotherapy, surgical removal, or in rare cases, Alpha Interferon. To see which treatment option is best for you, talk to your doctor.
An example of medical advice: In your specific case, you should use Imiquimod to treat the symptoms of Genital Warts.
Notice how medical information is very non-specific and generic, whereas medical advice tells a specific person what they personally should do. When a person has concerns regarding their personal medical problems (for example concerns about symptoms, treatment, etc.), I refer them to their doctor.
When I am answering a persons questions, I give them medical information. Because of legal issues, and because I do not know all the details of everyone's individual case (for example lab results, medical history, physical exam results, etc.), I cannot give any individual medical advice over the computer or over the phone. If a person has questions regarding their personal medical concerns, they should discuss these concerns with their doctor.
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