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Could crowdsourcing a medical diagnosis leave doctors liable?

When most people experience symptoms of a medical condition they are not familiar with they usually see a doctor or go to the hospital. A health care professional will then give them a diagnosis that can help steer a patient toward the appropriate treatment plan.

But as a number of our Florida readers have experienced for themselves, sometimes a failure to diagnose can occur. While this can happen because of negligence, it some cases it can happen because the physician is not familiar with the ailment from which you are suffering. This can not only lead to a delayed diagnosis but to delayed treatments as well that can leave a patient feeling frustrated and wondering what options they have.

It was this problem that led one entrepreneur to create a crowdsourcing domain called CrowdMed, which gives people with undiagnosed medical conditions the opportunity to find out what is ailing them. A person simply submits a case with all of the pertinent medical information then sets a "reward" for the person or people who provide the correct diagnosis.

But how does a person trust the diagnosis that they are given?

According to Medical Daily, the site consists of about 700 people, some of whom are medical students or even retired doctors. But while a majority of those contributing might have the knowledge, some may not. It also begs the question: if someone has the knowledge, does that mean they are legally able to give medical advice on a site such as this?

This isn't the only legal question this site raises though. Some of you might wonder if this site could open retired doctors and medical students up to liability issues. Does the site need or have medical malpractice insurance in case a diagnosis is wrong? Are Florida's laws equipped to handle issues regarding a misdiagnosis and this site? It's something we hope our readers will consider, especially because it could create problems that may be difficult to sort out without the right legal help.

Source: Medical Daily, "Crowdsource Your Medical Diagnosis? CrowdMed Bets On Long-Sick Patients Desperate For Help," Susan Scutti, July 1, 2014

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