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911 Disclaimers Are Absurd

I’m sure you’ve seen them on medical blogs:  Disclaimers that remind readers to call 911 in the event of emergency.

But is someone choking on a hot dog really going to dial up KevinMD or SeattleMamaDoc for help?  Does anyone really believe that 33 charts is the place to deal with your acute airway obstruction when you have a just a couple of minutes to live?

Here’s my theory:  I suspect that the first attorney who came up with the 911 disclaimer did so as some sort of perverse joke.  And rather than seek the input of their own lawyers, all those who followed simply copied the this original language believing it to be judicious and most conservative.  Now it’s the longest running gag in legal history.

I’ve yet to hear of a doctor forced to pay damages over the misunderstanding that their blog was the sole source of therapeutic direction in an individual patient’s maligned care.  Perhaps it’s that viral 911 disclaimer keeping us safe.

Long before the internet I wrote for magazines like American Baby and Parenting.  There were no sidebars reminding the parent-in-crisis of the three number sequence that should be used in place of the magazine’s advice.  That would have been insulting.

Those initiating the 911 disclaimer should step forward and claim their place in history.  We’ve all had a good laugh.

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

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