Health Coaching Legalities: Disclaimers For Your Protection

*This blog discussion is intended for educational purposes only and should not take the place of or supersede the advice of an attorney or legal counsel*

It’s fitting that this blog, and the others in this blog series, begin with a disclaimer! It’s the perfect example of using disclaimers to protect not only yourself, but also your patients/clients.

The intent of a disclaimer is to declare that there are no guarantees, representations or warranties for a particular result. Due to the number of variables that will come into play with your business, especially the variables patients will present with, it is imperative that you are direct about managing patient expectations. You can make no guarantees and you should not infer that a certain result will occur.

Ultimately, the use of disclaimers is to keep you safe from lawsuits, since you are managing the expectations of your patients immediately.

Should disclaimers only be used on your paperwork when patients first come to the office? Nope! There are several places you should have disclaimers. Blog posts, for example 🙂 Your website, social media, and marketing materials are excellent places to put disclaimers, in addition to your patient paperwork and contracts.

What are some examples of disclaimers?

“These health coaching materials disclaim any particular result for the user.”

Or,

“The health coaching encounter does not replace the guidance and/or prescription of a physician or other licensed healthcare provider.”

Your documents, marketing materials, and website should make it clear that you are helping clients achieve their behavioral change goals using strategies to enhance the patient’s own motivation to achieve their goals.

Where medical and clinical professionals are somewhat protected under State Practice Acts and have a license that allows them to guide patients with health risks, health coaches must function outside of licensed practice. If you are a licensed professional, you still should not use your credential in your materials if it would change the scope of your relationship as client and coach. However, if you are in a position to integrate coaching into patient visits with a provider or facility, the engagement of the client may be enhanced.

Tomorrow we will wrap up our Health Coach Legalities blog series with the big topic everyone has been waiting for… CONTRACTS!

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