MN policy on medical advice

(36 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

sycamore54321 Thu 14-Jul-16 01:39:02

I tried looking but I don't see it. What is the MNHQ policy on medical advice? Specifically on posters strongly urging people to ignore their own doctors?

I see it repeatedly in the pregnancy and childbirth threads. The 'default' position appears to be to decline induction, choose VBAC, ignore all sorts of warning signs, keep medical-forum-shopping until you find some midwife who will say what you want to hear while ignoring every other doctor who said the opposite, no acknowledgement of what the OP has described as enormous risk factors. It terrifies me that we could be witnessing posters cheerleading women into decisions that risk their health, fertility and lives, not to mention the health and lives of their babies.

On most other mainstream boards, I see a far more proactive and responsible approach of not permitting anything that might even come close to medical advice. Here it seems perfectly ok to line up to tell a woman with multiple risk favors that her three-weeks-overdue home water VBA4C birth 80 miles on country roads from the nearest hospital is just fine for a 45 year old with high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.

I also see it on other threads in the medical section but the 'ignore the advice of the medical team who know your individual case' mantra seems pervasive on the pregnancy boards. Often the poster might only have asked a question about a specific aspect of a procedure, only to be met with " you don't have to consent to induction, you know" or "you should consider homebirth" etc.

What would be the responsibility of MNHQ or individual posters if it all goes wrong for some poor woman or her baby?

VimFuego101 Thu 14-Jul-16 02:42:20

I'm not sure that everyone takes the default position you describe (it's more the odd poster), but I agree with you that unqualified posters should not be allowed to give medical advice and this is concerning. It's tough to draw the line between anecdotes of your own experience and inadvertently telling a poster something is fine when it isn't.

Out2pasture Thu 14-Jul-16 03:02:38

excellent question sycamore, I look forward to the MNHQ response.

Idontknowwhoiam Thu 14-Jul-16 04:51:20

This has bothered me a lot too.

hesterton Thu 14-Jul-16 05:23:50

And me too.

The implications of ignoring advice can be utterly devastating as I have seen in friends who lost their dd. Tragic.

queenoftheboys Thu 14-Jul-16 05:29:46

I disagree with a lot of pregnancy/delivery advice given on here too, but I think the line between discussion of a general approach to a situation and lifestyle advice; and actual medical advice would be quite hard to draw. You could argue that nothing said on an anonymous Internet forum by posters of unknown background who don't know the OP's history actually constitutes medical advice. And certainly shouldn't be taken as such. MN could put a disclaimer to that effect at the top of every thread to cover themselves, but in terms of practical value I suspect there would be none.

You can find all sorts of questionable advice on the Internet, much of it masquerading as actual medical advice purportedly from medical professionals, and ultimately it's the responsibility of the individual to weigh it up and make their own decision, which you or I may not agree with.

It goes the other way too - there are quite a few threads where posters are urged to go to A & E, for example, when I (as a Dr) think it's probably unnecessary. I don't say so though because I can't be sure.

I guess ultimately I'm in favour of a less regulated, caveat emptor approach which is what we have now.

pinkladyapple Thu 14-Jul-16 06:17:52

I'm sure that on the desktop version of mumsnet that there is a disclaimer somewhere but it's not very noticeable.

I think that someone giving definitive medical advice (someone saying you should do this rather than giving experience) or a thread asking for advice should be reportable so that MNHQ can post a disclaimer.

Blistory Thu 14-Jul-16 06:30:53

Encouraging women to question medical advice isn't necessarily a bad thing. Being encouraged to find a supportive midwife or consultant is hardly the same as being advised to free birth, is it ?

And there's been a deliberate move in healthcare towards engaging with patients and working in partnership with them. Most advice I see on here encourages women to make informed choices and I think it's important that women realise that their health during pregnancy and labour is not an aside but fundamentally important. This notion that women should passively accept all medical advice unquestioningly for the sake of the baby sits uncomfortably with me as does the notion that women are somehow reckless or selfish if they wish to deviate from the norm.

annandale Thu 14-Jul-16 06:33:54

I do wonder about this, and continue to feel guilty because the sporner culture on MN has led to a man having a burst eardrum sad Since then I have tried a few times to counter the press to home surgery on those threads.

Unfortunately people seem much more likely to believe randoms on the internet than their own doctor. Very occasionally it works in their favour but like the OP I do worry sometimes about a major decision made with internet only backing.

insancerre Thu 14-Jul-16 06:34:00

The responsibility would lie with the person taking medical advice from strangers on the internet, anonymous ones at that

Sooverthis Thu 14-Jul-16 06:40:04

It's an internet forum the onus is on the reader to disseminate information with that in mind.

YorkieDorkie Thu 14-Jul-16 06:51:34

Good post OP. I witnessed a shocker the other day.

Oblomov16 Thu 14-Jul-16 07:09:35

Surely it is a balance. If the OP was happy with the GP/HV/Consultant opinion, they wouldn't be asking.

sycamore54321 Thu 14-Jul-16 12:18:17

Interesting discuss so far. Of course you can put disclaimers. I don't think they really work. I don't think the posts i am concerned about are those where people are saying "trust me, I'm a doctor". It is more the sense of persuasive group think that says "you should disregard your doctor". I think it is naive to expect that people's decisions are not influenced if they set a chorus online of telling them what they want to hear, rather than the less pleasant realities of medical fact. I've seen posts where someone mentions they would have preferred a water birth but are nervous about their upcoming c-section or induction related for example to concerns about the baby's growth, and asks for tips on how to relax or recover. You can almost guarantee at least a proportion of the posts will say "they can't make you have a section you know, you can always decline, growth scans are not accurate, your body knows what it is doing, trust yourself". It scares me that this can influence the OP to change their mind and what if something then happens to the baby? Do we really think out words have no impact on the person reading them?

My experience is that other equivalent mainstream sites to MN, for example boards.ie in Ireland, are extremely strict on deleting anything approaching medical advice. Presumably they have assessed the issue and concluded that yes indeed people do listen to other people online, especially if it is what they want to hear, even if they can't know its reliability or accuracy. I'd be interested to hear from MN why they have chosen a different path and whether the time is not right for a review of this policy.

DonkeyOaty Thu 14-Jul-16 12:29:42

A disclaimer should be sufficient

If folk are stupid enough to take risks with health on the advice of randomers on the internet then on their heads be it

queenoftheboys Thu 14-Jul-16 12:39:30

Yes, but how do you define medical advice? How do you make a rule that screens out inappropriate medical advice, but allows free discussion - that's a really hard line to draw. There's also a lot of helpful stuff people post about mental health say, or SN children. If the definition of medical advice is wide enough to encompass "they can't make you have a section" (which is really just a statement of fact, rather than medical advice) surely it would include those things too? And that would be a shame.

People are responsible for their own decisions regardless of any advice they might read on the Internet or anywhere else.

My feeling is always to err on the side of free speech and personal responsibility I guess. Interesting discussion though smile

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Thu 14-Jul-16 17:11:00

GMC guidance for doctors using social media:

17. If you identify yourself as a doctor in publicly accessible social media, you should also identify yourself by name. Any material written by authors who represent themselves as doctors is likely to be taken on trust and may reasonably be taken to represent the views of the profession more widely.

ExcuseMyEyebrows Thu 14-Jul-16 17:41:05

I agree OP.
I asked for a potentially dangerous piece of health advice to be deleted recently but as it wasn't against talk guidelines it was allowed to stand.

BengalCatMum Thu 14-Jul-16 17:48:28

I agree its difficult.

I have been fighting on one thread recently to try to ensure mothers will be the Gardasil jab to prevent cancers forming from HPV.

However I do also believe that there needs to be a space for people to discuss issues with mainstream medicine (ie. the mothers who found out there was an issue with certain vaccines, and finding other mothers will enable them to join together and claim compensation).

But its a bit of a nightmare and cuts both ways.

The benefit of having said Gardasil thread above is that I and others can tell OP and other mothers, our reasons why they need to vaccinate their children, or at least make it their decision. Rather than let me go unchallenged and not consider the other side.

Difficult though. I think the answer may be post-specific, rather than topic ban.

BengalCatMum Thu 14-Jul-16 17:49:17

ensure mothers will give the Gardasil jab

BengalCatMum Thu 14-Jul-16 17:50:14

or at least make it their decision - ie. atleast make it daughters decision

BengalCatMum Thu 14-Jul-16 17:51:25

FFS - sorry typing way to quick

Rather than let them go unchallenged

LineyReborn Thu 14-Jul-16 17:53:22

There's a thread at the moment also with an OP arguing that anti-depressants are damaging. That worries me.

They are life-savers for many.

lljkk Thu 14-Jul-16 17:56:54

This is rampant on the menopause threads, too.
But tbh, i don't see how it can be policed other than with a disclaimer....

Maybe with encouragement to think for oneself, too. Consider the known vs. unclear credibility of the sources of info.

RosieSW Thu 14-Jul-16 18:22:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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