27

votes

Are we all just giving illegal medical advice? (paleo site under investigation)

Commented on February 15, 2015
Created February 01, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Here's the site in question: http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/2012/01/28/this-site-free-speech-are-being-investigated/

Some guy with diabetes finds low-carb paleo, loses weight, goes off insulin, and decides to preach about it online. He gives advice to people on how to follow in his footsteps.

Then he goes to a meeting of North Carolina nutritionists and apparently pisses them off. They are now investigating his website to see if they can hit him with a misdemeanor charge of giving nutrition advice without a license. According to their claims, giving any nutritional advice without a license is illegal.

So here we are on Paleohacks, handing out nutritional advice left and right. Are we violating North Carolina state law? Should Patrik put in a hack that prefaces every single post with "I'm not a doctor... "?

(trying to avoid the obvious political justification side of this discussion)

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on June 17, 2012
at 04:16 PM

The people who got him into trouble should be in trouble for being monopolistic, stupid, incompetent, wrong, arrogant, destructive, etc. etc. etc. I wonder how many people have died because diabetic so-called professionals have recommended that diabetic people eat just a little bit of pasta.

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on June 17, 2012
at 03:55 PM

j3wcy wrote, "You can reasonably rely on the opinion of a doctor for medical advice" Really?????

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on June 17, 2012
at 03:41 PM

It doesn't matter. I won't matter. No one will be able to stop this movement.

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on June 17, 2012
at 03:39 PM

The MD so-call profession is a monopoly.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 03:32 AM

Sad that people think they can reasonably rely on a doctors advise because they have a bit of paper, when theres no reason to think that there advise couldnt be the worst advice ever and end up killing you. (and theres plenty of standard doctors advices that have this end)..i dont trust doctors with my life unless I have to. I trust my own judgement, once its informed by research, more than any other individual. I think thats more reasonable than trusting something I havent researched to a stranger - lol @ wholly relying on someones answer with no evidence to suggest I should...

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on June 06, 2012
at 05:22 AM

Really? Wow..I just assume people are smarter than this. I give them the benefit of the doubt that when they ask for and receive advice on a Blog, from strangers that they take it for what it is - Free Advice from a stranger that may or may not be valid or useful.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on June 01, 2012
at 02:02 PM

In his case it's pretty obvious he's not; the top of his site has a big banner that says Chris Kresser L.Ac, which are clearly not doctor credentials. If you don't know an acupuncturist isn't a medical doctor, there's not a lot of help for you, (not to knock acupuncturists, I go to one regularly and have for years). He also has disclaimers all over the place. The legal standard isn't "could an idiot think you're a doctor".

723519573be05b5edeb0659025b2fcd2

(306)

on June 01, 2012
at 04:45 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court has basically written commercial speech out of the First Amendment.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 01, 2012
at 03:27 AM

Yeah, Justin...I think you're right. The organization in NC would probably have no beef with him at all if he was recommending the same things they are. I think the problem is not so much that he's unlicensed as it is that he's contradicting the paradigm their salaries are based on.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 01, 2012
at 03:25 AM

Hmmm....I see a ton of people who think Chris Kresser is a doctor of some sort, but as far as I know, he's an acupuncturist. (Not saying he doesn't know his stuff pretty darn well, but he's not actually a doctor.)

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 01, 2012
at 03:23 AM

Absolutely, Firestorm! I'm closing in on a master's in nutrition, and we're always very careful to use the word "client" instead of "patient," and we can NOT diagnose anything. We can make suggestions and recommendations based on "things that have worked for others with similar symptoms to you," and stuff like that. *Sigh.* It's a jungle out there. And +1 for being one of the way too few people who use the right affect/effect with "effect change." ;-)

Medium avatar

(19469)

on May 06, 2012
at 03:02 PM

Thanks Shari! I agree. It's ludicrous that someone can write a book about "fasting" on lemonade but a person who had diabetes, and beat it, can't share what he learned with other people.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on May 05, 2012
at 09:29 PM

Great interview FED! Steve is right. They have put a muzzle on him and in the end people will be hurt by the lack of information. If this is what they feel is compliance they need to be made to feel something else. I hope he fights them on this one. I hope we all do.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1502)

on April 30, 2012
at 02:18 PM

Why doesn't this post have the most votes? It's the correct answer. CHECK!

A45af235ed4dd0b4f548c59e91b75763

(1936)

on April 30, 2012
at 12:42 PM

Well I don't agree with her, so she most certainly should be arrested.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3531)

on February 03, 2012
at 02:07 AM

Why??? Her diet is so...so...kind :)

Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

(13635)

on February 02, 2012
at 11:43 PM

This is now my #1 up-voted answer. ;0)

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 02, 2012
at 06:30 PM

I couldn't agree more, I'm just answering from a legal perspective, which unfortunately, and at same time probably rightfully so, doesn't care about any of those things. I think it's things like this that make a libertarian...you can't fire the FDA. It would be wickedly difficult to do something like prosecute someone for say, the China Study. You'd have to show: they meant it to be used for medical diagnosis and treatment; it was foreseeable it would be used for that purpose; it was used for the purpose; someone suffered injury because of it; injury; divisibility of harm; etc...

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on February 02, 2012
at 05:36 PM

wildwabbit, true. But I'd rather face disgust than pity. :)

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on February 02, 2012
at 03:48 PM

j3wcy - this then begs the question of who is responsible for quality of the research that the consensus is built upon. It also raises a question of what value nutritionists add if all they do is parrot a 'consensus'.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 02, 2012
at 03:20 PM

+1, love this answer, wish it were totally true. Sorry to say that there are a lot of ways to be held liable for advice or opinions, even if you're not trying to commit willful fraud or harm. Sadly, speech is a lot less free than you might think.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 02, 2012
at 03:10 PM

Asclepius, it depends. The legal standards are all about what's widely accepted (on the theory that a consensus of doctors is more qualified to make determinations than the court would be about right/wrong). If you can show your theory is widely accepted, even if it's contentious to some, you're fine. If it's shown you're using a not widely accepted theory, you might not be so fine.

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on February 02, 2012
at 12:04 PM

Just one corollary to this question; has anyone considered the consequence of the North Carolina nutritionists being found guilty of giving negligent and potentially damaging advice at some point in the future? Given the anecdotal evidence that some diabetics following a paleo diet actually recover, I wonder if any of the nutritionists will actually be held accountable/responsible for the current advice if this is proved to be such?

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 02, 2012
at 08:33 AM

lol Americans...

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 02, 2012
at 05:40 AM

I think a vegan at Paleo F/X will face quite a different reaction compared to a Paleo at Vegan F/X. The former, if promoting the lifestyle, will get laughed at, while the latter will be viewed with disgust out of principle.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on February 02, 2012
at 05:15 AM

@Ed, yeah I know. But how would you feel if a vegan infiltrated Paleo F/X or something? I'm just saying it wouldn't be a friendly welcome.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on February 02, 2012
at 03:29 AM

Did you HAVE to refer to law school? Now I have to go curl up in a ball in the corner and whimper. PTSD trigger ;) I like your answer, anyhow.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on February 02, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Most health professional conferences are open to anyone--to attend and participate in--no matter what their credentials, as long as they register and pay the fees.

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 02, 2012
at 12:20 AM

I most certainly can! Otherwise I have to write dozens of pages of ironclad legalese to cover every possible scenario and hole I or others can anticipate! Besides, the courts need love too, and a little token gray area, not too big mind you else one can lose credibility and get slapped with incompetence, will create more billable hours ;)

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 02, 2012
at 12:11 AM

Haha you can't just leave terms to be contextually defined all willynilly like. Not that your definition needs to make any sense at all, which is why I have a job. Also trust me, I love debating the fine points as much as the next guy and probably way more than most, but at least ten times a day I wish I never went to law school. Grass is always greener :)

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 10:00 PM

Well, it could very well have started because he went to a meeting for licensed nutritionists (as no one else can call themselves such in many states), created an initial perception that he was "one of them", stirred a pot, and got hunted down. For any group of specific licensed professionals, one should always remember the wise words of Gandalf: "Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." To ashes on the spot? No not satisfying enough, "let's have him go home for a few days feeling good, then toy with him ourselves before handing him over to the courts!"

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:49 PM

I giggled as that comment concisely speaks to the state of being that avoids these messes in the first place ;)

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:32 PM

And to nitpick, I left "sufficiently" undefined so that the context of any arbitrary situation can be allowed to determine whether it is sufficient for both criminal AND civil liability ;)

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:30 PM

Yes indeed, I understood that as well, even though I am not a lawyer (truly) :) I justified myself in not stating that because ultimately any sufficiently gross and severe act can lead to both criminal AND civil liability. Makes me wish I was a lawyer sometimes as there is no end of work debating finer points with other lawyers and being paid for it ;)

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:11 PM

Happy to not specifically help anyone at all :)

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:10 PM

Haha I understand, and I apologize if that came off as repeating. I was hoping to add some (not some specific or at all directed) legalese haha. Also at the risk of nitpicking (lawyer) to my knowledge you can be held criminally responsible for malpractice. And saying you're not a lawyer is always good policy. Even I usually state I'm not a lawyer, or at least hope people won't hold it too much against me :p

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:23 PM

Well, that was, in my poor words, the "causing confusion" part (i.e. allowing a person to be confused about his qualifications). Good thing I stated I was not a lawyer ;)

912ec069b5bd84af1b6ef7545b950908

(428)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:10 PM

I spend a bit of time on a site for people with mental illness. We are encouraged to say "X worked for me" or "have you tried X" instead of "you should do X," because the "you should do" part sounds doctor-y and also, frankly, rather more confrontational. The "X worked for me" formulation is much more in keeping with my own communication style.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:09 PM

You need to be a little careful, because this isn't wholly accurate. In general, the law will view not disabusing someone of the notion that you are a qualified licensed professional when you should, is as bad as holding yourself out as one.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 01, 2012
at 06:40 PM

Do you play one on TV?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 01, 2012
at 06:38 PM

Actually, the ADA has been sued for just that.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 01, 2012
at 06:26 PM

Time to re-read "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 01, 2012
at 05:38 PM

One other thing that occurred to me, at least in terms of the result of the meeting is "Did the post-er behave in a manner that might be construed as being "hostile"?" I've noted in my own dealings, as someone on the fringes of society in many ways, that if I am exceedingly polite, and take the time to frame questions -- even pointed questions -- in a way that allows the other person to 'save face', I get many more satisfactory responses, and a lot less hostile argument -- even if I don't agree with the response, and the responder is occasionally condescending, it is usually informative.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 01, 2012
at 05:36 PM

Thanks much for the non-advice! :-))

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:27 PM

An MD doesn't have to pass themselves off as "qualified" as they *are* "qualified" by definition by both degree and state license to practice. If they give bad medical advice, its not illegal (in terms of criminal law) but rather it is malpractice (in terms of civil law). If an MD needs investigation, thats a matter for the state licensing boards. The OP of this thread, on the other hand, is not a licensed professional in the medical nor nutrition fields, and hasn't claimed to be. Thus, he can't "pass" himself off, though a bee hive may try to get him on "causing confusion". I am not a lawyer

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:24 PM

Actually Malory your inability to "diagnose" is actually your strength! The diagnosis paradigm is falling. It is a failed experiment. Treat health...period. I can see how the language of wellness seems strange and ambiguous at fist, but it really is a better way.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:21 PM

God forbid people share positive experiences based on lifestyle change with their fellow man.....he really needs to be blogging on how daily insulin injections keep him alive, bet nobody would sue over that.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19142)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:20 PM

I think we need to gather any diabetic out there who got worse on the ADA's recommendation and sue the hell out of them, then turn around and sue the NC nutritionists guild or whatever for monopoly.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 01, 2012
at 03:25 PM

+1 for the poop talk. Yes, I am THAT immature.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 01, 2012
at 03:22 PM

Then half the articles in most magazines are illegal.

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on February 01, 2012
at 02:36 PM

This makes me so angry! We need seomeone with a lot of money to take this one through the courts with all the supporting data.

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on February 01, 2012
at 02:02 PM

+1 I agree Carl. Telling people to eat whole foods and avoid processed foods, the nerve of those pesky paleo eaters.

63479974b34930b7bedb12afa19083d3

on February 01, 2012
at 01:53 PM

I came here to say a variation of the same thing myself. I know a few licensed MD's that could use some investigation!

Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

(13635)

on February 01, 2012
at 11:45 AM

The phrase "You should do X" to me is an opinion and OK to say. Saying "You WILL do X, or else!!!" is when the line is crossed.

2a2da4d6df354c8473706281d61d1850

(430)

on February 01, 2012
at 11:10 AM

Outrageous! This just makes me so furious...!

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28 Answers

48
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on February 01, 2012
at 11:40 AM

Let's see them go after Michelle Obama first.

It's absurd to think advice and opinions aren't protected speech. Only if a person tries to commit willful fraud or harm to another would it be an issue.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 02, 2012
at 03:20 PM

+1, love this answer, wish it were totally true. Sorry to say that there are a lot of ways to be held liable for advice or opinions, even if you're not trying to commit willful fraud or harm. Sadly, speech is a lot less free than you might think.

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on February 01, 2012
at 02:02 PM

+1 I agree Carl. Telling people to eat whole foods and avoid processed foods, the nerve of those pesky paleo eaters.

Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

(13635)

on February 02, 2012
at 11:43 PM

This is now my #1 up-voted answer. ;0)

723519573be05b5edeb0659025b2fcd2

(306)

on June 01, 2012
at 04:45 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court has basically written commercial speech out of the First Amendment.

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on June 17, 2012
at 03:41 PM

It doesn't matter. I won't matter. No one will be able to stop this movement.

38
5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:56 PM

I am not a doctor...but I am a lawyer, and those of you that have touched on the passing yourself off as a medical professional are mostly right. It comes down to whether someone can reasonably rely on your opinion. You can reasonably rely on the opinion of a doctor for medical advice, you can't reasonably rely on a homeless person for the same, and by that, hold them to the same standard of care. I won't bore you with the details (unless you want them) but it's more about the difference between someone wholly relying on your answer vs. knowing you're not a doctor etc and following your advice anyway.

For the purposes of PH, I wouldn't lose a ton of sleep over it. You could put a disclaimer at the bottom of the post which would cover you (this isn't medical advice etc), or a click wrap that said I agree in submitted this I understand it is not for the purposes of receiving medical advice (there are a lot of options here). Also just for the record, "I never said I was a doctor," is not a defense, if a reasonable person could infer that you are.

It's a complicated issue, but I guess that's why law school is such a bitch.

Oh, and I live in North Carolina :) and this was not legal advice, just general ramblings about general things ;)

76b276b656f5aa152808d2bc4c84b3ee

on February 15, 2015
at 09:36 AM

I want to create a website as an online game, like Second Life or Neopets (browser game) where everyone starts off as a doctor giving medical advice to the characters inside the game. The goal is to cure each other and get higher rankings in the medical community (inside the game reality). The game features would be "substantial" (so not just some disclamer but you could really play it MMORPG style inside the browser).

How safe do you believe is such a game to bypass the current laws in question, to ultimately just restore free speech?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 01, 2012
at 05:36 PM

Thanks much for the non-advice! :-))

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:11 PM

Happy to not specifically help anyone at all :)

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:49 PM

I giggled as that comment concisely speaks to the state of being that avoids these messes in the first place ;)

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on February 02, 2012
at 03:29 AM

Did you HAVE to refer to law school? Now I have to go curl up in a ball in the corner and whimper. PTSD trigger ;) I like your answer, anyhow.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1502)

on April 30, 2012
at 02:18 PM

Why doesn't this post have the most votes? It's the correct answer. CHECK!

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 01, 2012
at 03:25 AM

Hmmm....I see a ton of people who think Chris Kresser is a doctor of some sort, but as far as I know, he's an acupuncturist. (Not saying he doesn't know his stuff pretty darn well, but he's not actually a doctor.)

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on June 01, 2012
at 02:02 PM

In his case it's pretty obvious he's not; the top of his site has a big banner that says Chris Kresser L.Ac, which are clearly not doctor credentials. If you don't know an acupuncturist isn't a medical doctor, there's not a lot of help for you, (not to knock acupuncturists, I go to one regularly and have for years). He also has disclaimers all over the place. The legal standard isn't "could an idiot think you're a doctor".

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 03:32 AM

Sad that people think they can reasonably rely on a doctors advise because they have a bit of paper, when theres no reason to think that there advise couldnt be the worst advice ever and end up killing you. (and theres plenty of standard doctors advices that have this end)..i dont trust doctors with my life unless I have to. I trust my own judgement, once its informed by research, more than any other individual. I think thats more reasonable than trusting something I havent researched to a stranger - lol @ wholly relying on someones answer with no evidence to suggest I should...

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on June 17, 2012
at 03:55 PM

j3wcy wrote, "You can reasonably rely on the opinion of a doctor for medical advice" Really?????

14
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 01, 2012
at 02:44 PM

I think that where he got into trouble was in references on his site to diabetes and managing diabetes. Because diabetes is a specific illness, it could, possibly, be construed as "diagnosing and treating".

I have friends who are involved in alternative health. They have to be VERY careful. Most of them call themselves 'consultants', and only accept "clients". They don't "prescribe" -- diets, supplements, etc. -- they "recommend". And they're VERY VERY clear from day 1 and at every meeting that they're consulting, not diagnosing or prescribing, and that the folk who come to them aren't patients with diseases... they're clients with challenges.

I think that if he'd made sure that the disclaimers were very very clear, and provided "food plans" rather than "diabetic diets", he might have been ok... however, the thing that is MOST telling about this is that someone at that meeting took the effort and energy to look him up and turn him in.

I've had a lot of people suggest that it is better to "change the Behemouth from the inside". I disagree. I think that once you're inside the belly of the beast, you're as likely to get chewed up, digested, and poo-ed back out as you are to make any lasting change... especially when 99% of what is inside is going to be fighting you all the way to maintain the status quo. I think the only way we CAN effect change is from the outside, and the best way to go about it is to continue telling our stories, and hope like heck that people slowly get the message.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 01, 2012
at 06:26 PM

Time to re-read "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 01, 2012
at 03:25 PM

+1 for the poop talk. Yes, I am THAT immature.

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 01, 2012
at 05:38 PM

One other thing that occurred to me, at least in terms of the result of the meeting is "Did the post-er behave in a manner that might be construed as being "hostile"?" I've noted in my own dealings, as someone on the fringes of society in many ways, that if I am exceedingly polite, and take the time to frame questions -- even pointed questions -- in a way that allows the other person to 'save face', I get many more satisfactory responses, and a lot less hostile argument -- even if I don't agree with the response, and the responder is occasionally condescending, it is usually informative.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 01, 2012
at 03:23 AM

Absolutely, Firestorm! I'm closing in on a master's in nutrition, and we're always very careful to use the word "client" instead of "patient," and we can NOT diagnose anything. We can make suggestions and recommendations based on "things that have worked for others with similar symptoms to you," and stuff like that. *Sigh.* It's a jungle out there. And +1 for being one of the way too few people who use the right affect/effect with "effect change." ;-)

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on June 17, 2012
at 04:16 PM

The people who got him into trouble should be in trouble for being monopolistic, stupid, incompetent, wrong, arrogant, destructive, etc. etc. etc. I wonder how many people have died because diabetic so-called professionals have recommended that diabetic people eat just a little bit of pasta.

13
2eeb54ac3c0ceb55e0cfeb773ce91e29

(170)

on February 01, 2012
at 01:26 PM

I studied to become a nutritionist up in Canada (btw I think the original poster is confusing 'nutritionist' with 'dietician', as nutritionists are NOT licensed, either). We got a LOT of education/emphasis regarding what we were legally allowed to tell people or NOT tell people. We can't "treat" people in terms of any medical conditions they have; we can't diagnose (obviously, and I don't disagree with that), and we have to word everything in some kind of ambiguous, non-diagnosing, non-illness-centered language. ie. "I can't tell you anything I recommend will help disease X, but I can recommend things that will improve your nutrition status." Or something like that. It's rather ridiculous, but nobody wants a lawsuit or whatever other legal ramifications there may be brought against them. Tbh I am surprised at some of the paleo sites I visit and podcasts I listen to, because it really does sound like these people (whom I trust more than most doctors!) are treating specific medical conditions with the advice they give out. Maybe the U.S. has different laws regarding what you can say in a medical/disease context than what Canada has, or maybe the laws regarding that stuff just aren't enforced on every single person testing them. And I'm glad that people are willing to share their wisdom/experiences regarding how to achieve better health because if they didn't we'd all be stuck with CW.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:24 PM

Actually Malory your inability to "diagnose" is actually your strength! The diagnosis paradigm is falling. It is a failed experiment. Treat health...period. I can see how the language of wellness seems strange and ambiguous at fist, but it really is a better way.

11
3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

on February 01, 2012
at 01:30 PM

I always understood the standard being: you can only give illegal advice if you pass yourself off as a qualified, licensed professional.

EDIT:

I read the NC law posted in the link. I believe this can be fought. I am not a lawyer, this is only my opinion. The crux of it all depends on whether the OP blogger can be considered as "practicing" in order to provide "service" to a "consumer". Its a blog not a business, he is not providing a service but rather opinions, and has no consumers but rather visitors.

Even when referring to "diabetics" as a group in his website, I suspect the meaning of "group" in the law (as in assessing/determining needs of individual or group) refers to an explicitly defined group of specific (i.e. named) individuals for collective engagement. Otherwise, "humanity" also qualifies as a group to the ridiculous extreme.

The trick is, to make sure anything on the website can survive a court battle, as I have not reviewed all of the bloggers web site information myself in order to provide (a neither legal nor professional) opinion.

63479974b34930b7bedb12afa19083d3

on February 01, 2012
at 01:53 PM

I came here to say a variation of the same thing myself. I know a few licensed MD's that could use some investigation!

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 02, 2012
at 12:11 AM

Haha you can't just leave terms to be contextually defined all willynilly like. Not that your definition needs to make any sense at all, which is why I have a job. Also trust me, I love debating the fine points as much as the next guy and probably way more than most, but at least ten times a day I wish I never went to law school. Grass is always greener :)

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:32 PM

And to nitpick, I left "sufficiently" undefined so that the context of any arbitrary situation can be allowed to determine whether it is sufficient for both criminal AND civil liability ;)

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:10 PM

Haha I understand, and I apologize if that came off as repeating. I was hoping to add some (not some specific or at all directed) legalese haha. Also at the risk of nitpicking (lawyer) to my knowledge you can be held criminally responsible for malpractice. And saying you're not a lawyer is always good policy. Even I usually state I'm not a lawyer, or at least hope people won't hold it too much against me :p

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:27 PM

An MD doesn't have to pass themselves off as "qualified" as they *are* "qualified" by definition by both degree and state license to practice. If they give bad medical advice, its not illegal (in terms of criminal law) but rather it is malpractice (in terms of civil law). If an MD needs investigation, thats a matter for the state licensing boards. The OP of this thread, on the other hand, is not a licensed professional in the medical nor nutrition fields, and hasn't claimed to be. Thus, he can't "pass" himself off, though a bee hive may try to get him on "causing confusion". I am not a lawyer

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:30 PM

Yes indeed, I understood that as well, even though I am not a lawyer (truly) :) I justified myself in not stating that because ultimately any sufficiently gross and severe act can lead to both criminal AND civil liability. Makes me wish I was a lawyer sometimes as there is no end of work debating finer points with other lawyers and being paid for it ;)

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:23 PM

Well, that was, in my poor words, the "causing confusion" part (i.e. allowing a person to be confused about his qualifications). Good thing I stated I was not a lawyer ;)

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:09 PM

You need to be a little careful, because this isn't wholly accurate. In general, the law will view not disabusing someone of the notion that you are a qualified licensed professional when you should, is as bad as holding yourself out as one.

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 02, 2012
at 12:20 AM

I most certainly can! Otherwise I have to write dozens of pages of ironclad legalese to cover every possible scenario and hole I or others can anticipate! Besides, the courts need love too, and a little token gray area, not too big mind you else one can lose credibility and get slapped with incompetence, will create more billable hours ;)

11
6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on February 01, 2012
at 11:30 AM

I am not a doctor...

And please do not read this if you are in North Carolina...

Honestly I do think there is a fine line between relating our own experience and giving advice, that we would do well not to cross.

. X worked for me
. Have you tried x? are always better than...

. You should do X.

The bigger issue for me is that in a lot of countries/states, you have to sign up to certain CW concepts like "heart-healthy" slow release whole grain carbs are good for you, in order to become certified. If this were not the case, it wouldn't be left up to "renegades" like us to put the real science out there and challenge CW.

912ec069b5bd84af1b6ef7545b950908

(428)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:10 PM

I spend a bit of time on a site for people with mental illness. We are encouraged to say "X worked for me" or "have you tried X" instead of "you should do X," because the "you should do" part sounds doctor-y and also, frankly, rather more confrontational. The "X worked for me" formulation is much more in keeping with my own communication style.

Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

(13635)

on February 01, 2012
at 11:45 AM

The phrase "You should do X" to me is an opinion and OK to say. Saying "You WILL do X, or else!!!" is when the line is crossed.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 01, 2012
at 06:40 PM

Do you play one on TV?

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on June 06, 2012
at 05:22 AM

Really? Wow..I just assume people are smarter than this. I give them the benefit of the doubt that when they ask for and receive advice on a Blog, from strangers that they take it for what it is - Free Advice from a stranger that may or may not be valid or useful.

9
Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on February 02, 2012
at 01:44 AM

Arrest this woman!

are-we-all-just-giving-illegal-medical-advice?-(paleo-site-under-investigation)

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3531)

on February 03, 2012
at 02:07 AM

Why??? Her diet is so...so...kind :)

A45af235ed4dd0b4f548c59e91b75763

(1936)

on April 30, 2012
at 12:42 PM

Well I don't agree with her, so she most certainly should be arrested.

8
F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

on February 01, 2012
at 12:06 PM

As long as you are not pretending/passing yourself off as a medic/doctor or qualified nutritional adviser, I am not sure there is much the authorities can do.

The authorities are pissed that their 'authority' is being ignored and flatly contradicted - resulting in apparently superior outcomes. Thus they are having to do a bit of sabre rattling.

If you go to a gym you'll get dietary advice and nutritionists have never targetted PTs in my experience!

Also, consider the dietary advice from Kelloggs with regard to their food brands. They issue dietary advice on packaging as well as websites - little of it is truly 'bespoke'.

7
A03f0d03067a43c61786481d91e5d3a0

(1078)

on February 01, 2012
at 12:05 PM

Well to say the least, Paleohacks is a global community, and so the jurisdiction for us is highly ambiguous.

Within America you're supposed to have your First Amendment, no? Or can North Carolina mothers not tell their children how to eat without breaking the law?

5
193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:07 PM

It's actually very simple. If you say something that is detrimental to someone who has a lot of money who could make them lose a lot of money, then you will be pursued. It's the American way!

4
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41767)

on February 01, 2012
at 12:51 PM

As long as you don't pass yourself as acting in a professional capacity, then I don't think anybody could win a case against you. That however doesn't mean that can't bring a case against you and make your life hell and totally screw you up with legal fees and crap like that.

Probably wouldn't hurt to have some sort of disclaimer at the bottom of every page. Something along the lines of what's at the end of the Everyday Paleo podcast.

3
F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on February 01, 2012
at 11:31 PM

I totally get the outrage here, but this issue has been weighing on my mind.

All of us bloggers and otherwise Paleo broadcasters do share a responsibility. I'm guessing disclaimers will become quite common on sites like PH and others. Maybe my blog.

I realized this when I started blogging and some of my friends who gave it a shot weren't having the results I did. And it occurred to me that I wasn't interested in being anyone's guru, especially when there are folks like Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson, Whole9, and Robb Wolf doing it far better than I ever could. But I still want to be out there sharing information and discussing topics of interest, and I think that line can get pretty fine.

And besides, if you were at a conference of peers and some hack started participating who didn't have the proper credentials to talk about your profession, wouldn't you be pissed too?

But all that being said, I'm glad those nutritionists got a comeuppance. Took serious cojones, I salute you, sir.

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 02, 2012
at 05:40 AM

I think a vegan at Paleo F/X will face quite a different reaction compared to a Paleo at Vegan F/X. The former, if promoting the lifestyle, will get laughed at, while the latter will be viewed with disgust out of principle.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on February 02, 2012
at 05:15 AM

@Ed, yeah I know. But how would you feel if a vegan infiltrated Paleo F/X or something? I'm just saying it wouldn't be a friendly welcome.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on February 02, 2012
at 05:36 PM

wildwabbit, true. But I'd rather face disgust than pity. :)

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on February 02, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Most health professional conferences are open to anyone--to attend and participate in--no matter what their credentials, as long as they register and pay the fees.

2
Medium avatar

(19469)

on May 05, 2012
at 09:16 PM

I recently interviewed Steve Cooksey, the blogger investigated by the NCBDN for Paleo Magazine. If you'd like to check out his take on the situation, you can check it out here...http://www.paleomagonline.com/2012/05/04/interview-with-steve-cooksey/

This kind of sums it up though:

"At this point, where do things stand? On the NCBD website, they posted that they had withdrawn their complaint. http://www.ncbdn.org/file_a_complaint/recent_press_inquiry/

Essentially, they are saying that I am in compliance with state law and that they have withdrawn the original complaint. In my opinion, the state has restricted my free speech. I can???t say, ???You are diabetic and I think you should eat less than 30 grams of carbs per day until your blood sugar is normalized.??? I???m not allowed to say that. Now, your doctor is most likely not going to say that, your diabetes educator is not going to say that, somebody needs to say that."

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on May 05, 2012
at 09:29 PM

Great interview FED! Steve is right. They have put a muzzle on him and in the end people will be hurt by the lack of information. If this is what they feel is compliance they need to be made to feel something else. I hope he fights them on this one. I hope we all do.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on May 06, 2012
at 03:02 PM

Thanks Shari! I agree. It's ludicrous that someone can write a book about "fasting" on lemonade but a person who had diabetes, and beat it, can't share what he learned with other people.

2
59fa7cd87fb9d669adf21e5cf3e7ada5

on April 30, 2012
at 02:34 PM

I think a factor in this case is that the guy was offering paid consultations to individuals.

2
1ecda724f5bf67657b9e8a164fba8e39

on February 28, 2012
at 08:57 AM

If you read his summary of what went on, one issue is that he offered to help people on a one on one basis, paid, to help achieve what he did. That could be construed as offering paid solutions for medical problems, something the board would (and should) look into. Sharing anecdotal evidence should be free speech. Giving medical advice, especially for profit (however little - he did say for nominal charge), is regulated.

Providing opinions over studies, in the way Taubes does, is perfectly normal and protected, it is similar to the discussion portion of a metastudy. If he claims it will cure cancer and sell you the secret, he better be licensed.

Its the same in the pharmacy world. A tech can know all the answers, but if they get caught giving "professional opinion", rather than factual answers, it is grounds for dismissal. Professional opinion is reserved for pharmacists.

2
F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on February 02, 2012
at 05:46 PM

Sorry to be annoying and add another response, but does anyone think the era of the internet is changing the rules?

I mean, a court already decided that a blogger is not a journalist and not subject to those protections under the law.

So how, then, do we hold people responsible for advice given over the intertubes? I mean, it's not like people aren't actually trying this stuff out. Exhibit A = Paleo Hacks. :) How do we differentiate between "experts" and hacks?

I was at a party recently, and someone asked about the food thing (again!), so I responded and of course, someone listening asked me if I had a degree in nutrition or anything. After I got done grinding my teeth, I said, No, I didn't, but as a writer and someone who's interested in the topic, it benefits me to carve a niche for myself. Taubes did the same thing and it's paid off quite well for him. A degree does not (necessarily) an expert make. Grr. But I guess I could potentially be as much a part of the problem as the solution, since the dissemination of information is precisely part of the SAD and CW issues we see.

Wow, sorry folks. That's the LAST time I post after a latte. (P.S. - That's probably a lie.)

2
800547661e2d20d03f5a313d86eb6102

(155)

on February 02, 2012
at 04:00 AM

This whole topic ticks me off when thinking about the rubbish the big names tout on their websites, in their books, on the tv programs with the like of Dr Oz; Dr Dean Odell; "alternative doctor" Dr Weil who continue to over look the inflammatory properties of the whole grains & legumes they recommend to "lose weight" & "avoid coronary disease"...

1
3502f79e2b38fb5ec60ee20c36b1ec8e

on August 08, 2012
at 02:04 AM

I put my thoughts out on Steve's situation in a new post here:

http://www.taylorwellness.com/nutritional-advice-outlawed-my-thoughts-on-steve-cooksey-the-diabetes-warrior/

I'm curious how doctors can give nutritional advice when they historically have no classes or training in nutrition. They don't have licenses to practice nutrition or dietetics any more than Steve.

1
870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on June 01, 2012
at 03:11 AM

As an update: do y'all realize he's now suing the state of NC? http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20120531/APN/1205310692

1
61c3d2c07376ee667da321cc20a1e94b

on June 01, 2012
at 12:56 AM

As Cartman from South Park put it... "GODDAMN HIPPIES!!!"

If they are going to shut down on the basis of any online advice being a "practice", they have to shut down a lot more sites than just paleo ones, like the grapefruit diet and "HippieHolisticMedicine.com". But paleo is a target because it reveals the emperor (the medical community) has no clothes!

1
64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 30, 2012
at 08:30 PM

It should be noted that he was asked to comply and he did comply with their requests and the trouble is over. A month ago. Methinks hits are over 9000 with DW.

1
A45af235ed4dd0b4f548c59e91b75763

(1936)

on April 30, 2012
at 12:41 PM

Yes!.. I mean No!

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1
9dd4d453f7ebd7fd2a82814d08fc8f17

on February 01, 2012
at 08:39 PM

if the guy went to the NC nutritionists' meeting and talked about how diabetic people should take insulin and keep eating grains (presumably the same advice as the nutritionists would give) - 1) he would still be giving out medical advice without a license, and 2) the nutritionists would not sue him over giving out those medical advice. people have a nasty habit of questioning ur sanity, legal standing, or character when u don't agree with them, especially in scenarios where u r right and they can't prove u r wrong (so they attack anything and anyway around the bush to destroy u and ur credibility).

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on February 01, 2012
at 10:00 PM

Well, it could very well have started because he went to a meeting for licensed nutritionists (as no one else can call themselves such in many states), created an initial perception that he was "one of them", stirred a pot, and got hunted down. For any group of specific licensed professionals, one should always remember the wise words of Gandalf: "Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." To ashes on the spot? No not satisfying enough, "let's have him go home for a few days feeling good, then toy with him ourselves before handing him over to the courts!"

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 01, 2012
at 03:27 AM

Yeah, Justin...I think you're right. The organization in NC would probably have no beef with him at all if he was recommending the same things they are. I think the problem is not so much that he's unlicensed as it is that he's contradicting the paradigm their salaries are based on.

1
Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

on February 01, 2012
at 04:38 PM

my advice is free, if i was charging they might have a case. if i sold a book i might be profieting but the advice was free. so, i can assume i unles i send a bill my advice on this site is free also.

0
1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

on August 08, 2012
at 02:27 AM

I give actual medical device, as I am a Dr' practicing in Zimbabwe. Try me.

0
E8dd83fe24a0879d8b16ab4ca92b72dd

(1307)

on May 27, 2012
at 12:52 PM

Because we can soundly rely on the medical community's objectivity anymore, right?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/business/03pfizer.html

0
E0250b1e6dc5ec1539ffb745042b4d80

(3661)

on February 28, 2012
at 11:50 AM

I followed the links to NC's law and its from about 10 years before blogs. The law states that anyone distributing information is "practicing."

NC can't shut down the Internet, but they can try I guess. Nothing will come of it.

People should not worry about what they have been saying. No big deal.

-2
F35acbca0711c5a0dd7f8fc2ae3707b6

on April 30, 2012
at 11:40 AM

This is a horrible news when it comes to know like this. The doctors suggesting us to have a 6hr deep sleep.

This is a kind of rest we want everyday. We should not put down this. Even the billing company like us(http://www.billingparadise.com) are meeting lot of medical claims in the name of sleeping problems and wrecks

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