Issues of Potential Liability

Mally: I publish a medical directory for the Western Slope of Colorado. I am putting putting together a contest for stories titled Why I Love My Doctor. The winning 500 word story comes with a $1000 prize and publication in the magazine in January. Are there any legal issues I should be aware of concerning doctors?

At times in my life I have stopped myself from relating anecdotes about doctors I admire simply because I might inadvertently reveal something about them which might be misconstrued with regard to patient confidentiality or some ethical matter. I suppose any anecdote which suggests some therapy or remedy must be preceded by some disclaimer that everyone should seek a qualified physician for advice rather than attempting the same remedy or therapy.

Of course if the anecdotes were presented as fictional dramatizations based upon real life experiences which are not meant to represent any actual person living or dead then there would PERHAPS be no problem. The only problem with trying to do things which will encounter NO problem is that the world is filled with clever, litigious people who can trump up some allegation.

Then too, somewhere, surely there is a collection of precedents of cases where comments or statements have caused legal liabilities of a civil or criminal nature.

When in doubt the safest course of action is to take no action, but then “no pain, no gain” and “no risk, no reward.”

I was just about to post this when it occurred to me that offering monetary compensation might complicate things whereas inviting people to contribute material for the honor of being published would not involve the quid-pro-quo aspects that payment brings. Also, you would need to have disclaimers that all submissions become the property of the publication IF you anticipate using excerpts from other entries.

Of course, a truly clever person or persons could simply search the Internet for anecdotes relating to medical experiences and then compose fictional hypothetical scenarios.

Just my few impoverished thoughts; my two cents worth.


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