Is Your Website an Accident Waiting to Happen?

ChiroFutures Malpractice Program
Is Your Website an Accident Waiting to Happen?

Tips to Clean up Your Website & Social Media

As I travel around the country and teach risk management to chiropractors I have become very aware that as a group chiropractors don't grasp the full extent of the risks that are sitting right now on their websites.

And its not just the website but all of your social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter etc. Understand this very important point: Before you get that letter from the plaintiff's attorney telling you they are suing you and before you get the letter from the regulatory board that they are investigating you - they have already gone to your website and social media accounts and copied everything. I spend enough time on social media and reviewing websites to know these are accidents waiting to happen.

Please take the time to fix them now. Here are some tips.

Does the website offer free or discounted services? As with print advertising make sure you include any state mandated statement or disclaimer along with the discount offering. Many times you have to give the patient a set number of days to change their mind if they ended up paying for services that were not included in the offering and then you must give them their money back – no questions asked. Does your state even allow discounts, Groupon etc.

Does the website make any statement or claim that cannot be supported by scientific evidence? Make sure you back up any claims you are making with current peer reviewed scientific evidence. Do not make a claim if you cannot back it up and don’t wait until some time in the future to gather that evidence. You don’t want to have thirty days to respond to the Board only to find out the evidence you thought existed or the evidence your friend told you existed really doesn’t. This is especially true if your entire focus is on the analysis and correction of vertebral subluxation. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but many folks sitting on state boards are antagonistic to chiropractors who have this as their sole focus. Of course I don't agree with it - but we have to deal with reality.

Does your website or blog contain any statements that are not consistent with state laws and rules regulating the practice of chiropractic? If you have a blog on your website please keep in mind that everything you say on it may fall under the board’s jurisdiction. Are you rendering advice that is not consistent with your state’s scope of practice for example? Are you making any statements that could be considered unprofessional?

If you make any recommendations that are not consistent with the scope of practice in your state then you are practicing outside your scope just as if you were in your office doing it behind closed doors.

Does your website or blog bash or denigrate the practice of medicine? Be very careful with this. If you want to illustrate something for educational purposes make sure you have the data to back you up and make sure you are doing it in a fashion that would be considered educational as opposed to slanderous, libelous, unprofessional etc. This is especially true on the issue of vaccinations. After the Disney episode a couple of years ago there have been a rash of complaints against chiropractors by patients who felt pressured by the chiropractor not to vaccinate and reported them to the boards. Generally speaking every state requires you to follow all public health recommendations. I am just the messenger - remember?

Are you using patient testimonials? Many states, specifically state that you can not use patient testimonials in your marketing - period. Do not try to get around this as it is typically a sore spot for state boards and they have little tolerance for it. This includes things like YouTube videos.

Keep in mind also that even if you paid someone to do your website and they put all the content on it - you are the only one that is responsible. The board is not going to accept that as an excuse. 

Are you using Social Networking Sites such as FaceBook etc? Please, please, please remember that these sites are on the internet and that potentially anyone can see what you post or what you write. Even if you have not “friended” someone – that person can get it from someone else post it on their page and now there is nothing you can do to stop it. Anytime you post something stop and ask yourself what would happen if someone on the board saw it and what would happen if a jury saw it as part of a malpractice trial. This includes comments, pictures of you at parties and even pictures that your friends post that you might not have any control over other than opting out of being in the picture in the first place.

While this seems like a great deal to go through, especially if your website is already up and you have dozens of blog posts already up, now is the time to do this. Do not wait until it becomes a problem.

ChiroFutures offers risk evaluation of websites as part of the services we provide to our malpractice clients. Just one of dozens of benefits we provide to our members so you can focus on a busy office full of happy patients. Use this list and also go to the members only section of our website for a detailed checklist.

As always we look forward to your feedback, comments and questions.

Matthew McCoy DC, MPH
CEO & Co-Founder

ChiroFutures Malpractice Program