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Birth Control Pill Recall And Disclaimers On Medical Blogs

Just yesterday, I put up a post about the recent birth control pill recall. This recall is a big deal – millions of women are potentially impacted, and the adverse effect – an unplanned pregnancy – is very significant.

I knew women taking these pills would be very worried, and wanted very much to do more than just spit out the press release from the FDA. I wanted to both reassure women and give them information that they could use other than just a link and a phone number. I also needed to figure out  how I would be handing the recall in my own practice. So I combined the two and posted what I’ll be telling my patients to do if they find that they are taking a recalled pill pack.

As soon as the post went up, I got worried.

What if the advice I was giving my patients was not what other docs might do for their patients? What if patients misconstrued it, or had an individual situation that warranted some other approach ? (I couldn’t figure out what that might be, but that’s why it’s called individual.) What were the pharmacies and the pill manufacturers telling these women to do?

I knew that the advice I would be giving my patients was reasonable. The two weeks I was telling them to use backup contraception was double that recommended for women starting pills more than 3 days after their menses. The additional pregnancy tests I recommended were more than ample for detecting a pregnancy as early as possible, without leaving the chance that it was too early to be detected. This is bread and butter gynecology, folks. It’s what I do every day, and I can do it in my sleep. It’s no different than me telling women what they should do if they miss a pill in  pack. (Repeat after me -Take two the next day.)

But this just felt different. Probably because it is a unique situation for which there is no published consensus or package labeling. And because the whole scenario is ripe for lawsuits. It’s a birth control pill recall, for god’s sake.

I debated taking out the information about what I’ll be doing in my practice. But I’d be damned if this blog was going to turn into nothing more than a newsfeed. Where’s the value added that my readers get from me being a doctor? No. I was going to keep the post as it was. With one small change.

I made it very clear in the post that this was advice I was giving to my patients, not advice I was giving to my readers. And I told the readers to talk to their own doctor about what to do.

Most importantly, I finally did what every medical blogger should do, and what I should have done years ago on this blog. I wrote a disclaimer, and linked to it prominently, both in my navigation bar and on my “About” page.

Suddenly, I feel better.

If you’re a blogger, and don’t yet have a disclaimer, it’s time to write and post one. Here are a few links I found helpful in writing mine –

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

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