Wikiversity:Dealing with Medical Advice

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You can help develop this proposal, share your thoughts, or discuss its adoption as a Wikiversity policy, guideline, or process. References or links should describe this page as a "proposal".

The Wikiversity:Medical disclaimer states that anyone using this site should be aware that medical information provided by this site may not be completely accurate and that it shouldn't be taken as medical advice. It also states that "None of the individual contributors, system operators, developers, sponsors of Wikiversity nor anyone else connected to Wikiversity can take any responsibility for the results or consequences of any attempt to use or adopt any of the information presented on this web site". However, there have been a small number of articles produced that may be construed as medical advice. I draw particular attention to Diabetes mellitus, Postpartum Period, Parental health and Myths and Misconceptions about Type II Diabetes all of which addressed the reader in the second person and seemed to offer medical advice. To draw a comparison I would ask people to read the page on abortion and note that, although written in the same style and manner, it does not directly address the reader and does not offer medical advice.

Even though the information in this page is largely, if not entirely, correct, and that we are probably covered legally by the disclaimer, we have a moral duty to ensure that no reader comes to any harm as a result of edits on Wikiversity. This is especially true when we consider the first lesson in the School of Medicine, in which most medical edits will probably appear. The lesson is on Medical Ethics and particular attention should be paid towards the part describing beneficence and non-maleficence.

This is a site for education and not a patient help-line. Certainly, we should provide links in every medical page to where people with varying diseases and conditions can seek advice and help, but we should not provide this ourselves as we cannot ensure the information is entirely accurate. Despite the best beneficent intentions of most edits, misrepresentations of the truth may be maleficent and may cause harm to people who stumble onto these pages via a search engine and bypass the disclaimer.

It has been proposed that anybody who comes across such content can immediately withdraw it. This can be done by simple deletion (i.e. deletion of the text on the page, not the page itself) and, after a suitable period of discussion on its talk page, it may be reinstated, rewritten or removed, depending on community consensus. This may be viewed as flying in the face of free editing rights, but it doesn't. It only acts as a suspension of material, not of individuals, and the material may be reinstated. It also does not make new users feel ill-treated as they will be able to speak up for the work if they created it and learn from any mistakes.

If this goes on being ignored, there may be bad publicity for this site, much in the same way social networking sites have received it regarding bullying. Any adverse publicity would be detrimental to the whole Wikimedia foundation and would be very embarrassing for Wikiversity to be the project that brought it on us all. It may well be easy to say "it'll never happen", but what is the harm it placing a few safeguards that don't actually impede on the rights of any users at Wikiversity.

Please feel free to ask any questions regarding this proposal. Donek (talk) - Go raibh mile maith agaibh 00:40, 30 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]