The writings of a medical practitioner are one of the main pieces of evidence produced in negligence or false advertising lawsuits. People whose bodies are riddled with disease or who have just been through a horrific accident are prone not only to depression, but also to anger, and will often blame the “healer” and/or someone connected to them. Resulting lawsuits accusing medical practitioners of professional negligence abound—between 15,000 and 19,000 per year, according to Wikipedia.
In addition, nearly everyone has been taught, at some point during their school years, that the human body is made to heal itself. This includes patients, doctors, lawyers, writers, everyone. When a piece of writing implies that a drug or surgery or other medical practice will be the actual healing agent (as opposed to assisting in healing), that writing can be accused of false advertising.
Although lawsuits can provide great business for a legal writing service, how might they affect a medical one? Medical practitioners can prevent lawsuits by being very careful about the topical focus of the writing they are hiring done. They can take such steps as:
- Including in their instructions that the underlining emphasis be on the body’s ability to heal itself.
- Reminding the writer that most of the products/services they will be writing about are only for temporary use—tools to use in the healing process.
- Being careful in their final review of a writer’s work that it reflects the patient’s ability to heal themselves.
- Returning for revision all articles that don’t match up to this expectation.
The medical writing agency can also take steps to ensure that their writers do not inadvertently set up clients for potential lawsuits. Here are steps the agency can take:
- Remind writers to be cautious when writing about a miracle drug or practice.
- Include somewhere on the website a link to laws that directly affect medical writers, and maybe an actual case where a hired writer got in trouble with the law.
- When preparing training materials, include a reminder to focus on the body’s ability to heal itself. Support it with examples.
- If you have tests for an aspiring writer to take before being approved, be sure to include questions about how far a drug or procedure can go in healing a patient, about the body’s power to heal itself, and about legal ramifications and/or laws.
Remember that any writing produced by your site’s writers that gets a client in legal trouble will reflect negatively on the entire site. Whereas writing that helps the client to remember that a body’s ability to heal (or not) trumps over a healing drug or procedure, will help keep that practitioner out of trouble and somewhat protected against lawsuits. This will, in turn, encourage clients to keep coming back.
Susette H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.