Most consumer health libraries place disclaimers on library materials. Disclaimers inform patrons that libraries do not provide medical advice and do not interpret information for patrons. Patrons are referred instead to their health care providers to discuss their questions regarding health information. This page contains two summaries of responses regarding disclaimers from the CAPHIS Discussion List.
As summarized by
Anna Beth Morgan, AHIP
Associate Vice President for Academic Resources and Director of the Library
Summar Library, Union University
1050 Union University Drive,
Jackson, TN 38305-3697
phone (731) 661-5410
fax (731) 661-5175
This summary message was posted in July 2000 to both MEDLIB-L and CAPHIS, at the request of list members. Names of specific libraries have been replaced with "X."
We are reviewing the disclaimer that has been stamped in the books and other resources housed in our consumer health library. I would appreciate receiving copies of disclaimer statements used by others - short, medium and longer length messages are welcomed.
Also, does your consumer health library have disclaimer sign(s) posted? If so, what is written on the signage? Is it the same or different from the language placed on or inside consumer health materials?
Medical information obtained in this Library should be used to begin further discussion with your health care provider. Although the Library attempts to provide the most current medical information, the Hospital is not responsible for the information contained in the publications located in the Library.
This is in the form of a sticker, which is placed in each consumer book. We also use them on searches and articles given to consumers. We do not have a sign posted.
Our disclaimer (printed on 2x4 labels inside front cover of each book) reads as follows:
"The materials in _(library name)_ are intended to provide general information for you. Some material may contain information that is the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of your health care provider. Please consult with your health care provider on specific medical questions."
We do not have general sign posted anywhere, but I am considering adding one.
We place it on our mailings and it is displayed in the library:
Community Health Library Disclaimer
The resources at the X Community Health Library are provided for informational purposes and are subject to interpretation and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of X Medical Center. Some information may be controversial, and attempts will be made to maintain information on both sides of an issue. Health care information should always be discussed with your health care provider.
At the Consumer Health Information Service (CHIS), we have three versions of our disclaimer:
In our consumer health library (hospital-based), in our books and other materials, we put a sticker saying:
"The information presented in this book represents the opinion of the author and may not describe therapies which have undergone rigorous clinical trials. Decisions about appropriate therapy should be made in partnership with your healthcare provider."
We have a sign posted on the wall that reads:
"The purpose of the X Consumer Health Library is to provide public access to a wide range of Health and Medical information, NOT TO GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE.
Information provided by the X Consumer Health Library does not imply recommendation or endorsement and is NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR A CONSULTATION WITH A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL."
When we mail out information to a patron (research request) we send along a cover sheet that states:
"The purpose of the X Consumer Health Library at X Medical Center is to provide access to a wide range of health and medical information. It is NOT to give medical advice or interpretation. Information provided does NOT imply recommendation or endorsement, and is NOT a substitute for a consultation with a health professional."
We use 2, one for packets of information; and one as a general posting.
Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only as a service of Community Health Education Services. It was taken from standard medical sources and represents the opinion of the author(s). It is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage of the subject or to suggest a diagnosis or treatment modality. For further information on this subject, please contact your health care provider.
Materials in this Resource Center represent the opinions of the authors and are intended as a complement, not a substitute for, the advice of your healthcare providers.
This is the disclaimer we use on our Consumer Health Web Links site. Information accessed through the World Wide Web is of varying levels of quality and accuracy and should be discussed with your health care provider NOT used as a substitute for professional health care.
Our disclaimer (a stamp) in the books reads "X Patient Education Center. Some of this information may not apply to your personal situation. Please ask your physician your specific question." It is placed on the title page and if patrons make copies from the books they are asked to copy to title page also.
Our disclaimer on the walls and display racks read "Some information in the Library may not apply to your personal situation. Please ask you physician you specific question."
This is the disclaimer that goes on the cover letter with every mediated search we do:
Please note that our search is by no means comprehensive or complete. The information enclosed does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of X Cancer Center professional staff, and is in no way intended to take the place of the advice and recommendations of your personal health care provider.
This is the disclaimer we put on our bibliographies:
This list does not constitute an endorsement of the information contained in the resources. It is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for nor engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through this list and its links should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care.
This is the disclaimer on the acceptable use policy of the annex, which has 2 video-viewing stations and one computer
The Patient Education Resource Center and the University of X Cancer Center does not endorse or recommend any of the resources used at the annex. Information located in these resources does not necessarily reflect the views of U of X professional staff and is in no way intended to take the place of the advice and recommendations of your personal health care provider.
In addition we put a Notice sticker on each book, video, or audiotape our library owns: Notice from the University of X Cancer Center Patient Education Resource Center:
Information located in this resource does not necessarily reflect the views of U of X professional staff and is in no way intended to take the place of the advice and recommendations of your personal health care provider.
Our disclaimer states "This material provides information only. It does not replace the advice or counsel of a doctor or the health care team." This is stamped on all library materials. We also attach it to anything that we photocopy or any computer searches, basically anything that we give to patrons.
I have a long version of my disclaimer posted by the circulation desk and one by the computers. It reads-- The X Community Health Library provides access to a wide variety of health information. When using the services and materials of the Library, please remember the following points: * All questions are kept confidential * The information provided may not be all that is available on a subject. * Inclusion of material in the collection does not imply approval or recommendation by the Library or the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. * The Library does not provide medical advice or interpretation of information. * The material and information provided by the Library are not a substitute for consultation with a medical health professional.
I also have a short version that is on my web page and which I put on information I mail or email that reads:
Information provided by the Community Health Information Library does not imply medical recommendation or endorsement. The information provided should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider.
Both of these were run by our legal department for approval.
The materials in the X Memorial Library are intended to provide general information for you and do not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician on specific medical questions.
We have this on labels that we put on articles we supply to people. We also have sort of a bookplate that goes in the books.
I don't know how many other libraries take this approach, but I have a box full of little narrow fluorescent orange disclaimer stickers that I put on photocopies and printouts from the Internet and databases. These have been around awhile and were used by my 'parent' medical library when handling consumer information requests, prior to my library's existence. Hence they don't say my library's name on them, but we may be looking to change this. Here's what they say:
"This information is provided by the XX Health Sciences Library and is for informational purposes. It should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your health professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition."
I put them on items that I select for the user, with the understanding that if the user is printing stuff off a computer or making photocopies out of a book, they have made their own selection of that information, hence we can't be held liable and don't need a disclaimer. (Not sure of the legalities behind this, but it is our practice here.)
I also have a similar disclaimer, this time mentioning my library's name, on top of my response letter template for mailed and faxed requests. My supervisor has also discussed with me the possibility of putting disclaimer stickers on books or other collection items that may have outdated or misleading information, but we haven't really gotten into that yet.
Good luck--it seems to me that 'disclaimer presentation' is becoming a creative category in our type of library. Next we'll have disclaimer keychains and disclaimer Christmas ornaments and disclaimer rock videos.
2. This summary message was posted in December 2000 to the CAPHIS discussion list, at the request of list members. Names of specific libraries have been replaced with "X."
Re: disclaimers About four months ago I asked question #1 and collected replies, but have yet to produce the promised summary to the list. So, finally, below are disclaimers from the six different institutions that responded plus ours.
Everyone who replied used a disclaimer. Coverage ranged from having a disclaimer only on the borrower card signed before taking materials out of the library to having a disclaimer posted on the wall, on every book, video and journal in the library as well as on the patron agreement. Several people mentioned that when they provided information by fax, mail or printed from Internet sources they included a disclaimer either on a cover sheet, header or footer, or a label placed on the material itself. None of these institutions are specific to integrative medicine, but included a patient education center, women's wellness center and several hospital libraries.
Materials included in the Center do not necessarily imply any approval or recommendation by XX.
On the borrower card the patron fills out and signs:
We are happy to assist you in finding information; however, the Centres' staff cannot provide health advice. The presence of any book or other information does not imply endorsement of its entire contents. Many of the resources are general in nature and may or may not apply to your situation. Please talk with your health care provider about any questions or concerns you may have while reading or viewing resources. Your health care provider is the only person qualified to provide you with health advice.
Posted on the wall, and on every book video and audiotape in the library:
XX Hospital welcomes and invites you to use the information resources available through this health library.
Please be advised that the hospital does not necessarily endorse or support any of the materials you may review. The hospital recommends, as with any health-related concern, that you seek the advice and opinions of your experienced and licensed health care professional.
On a sticker placed on any material selected by the librarian for a patron, and on a response letter for mailed and faxed requests (but with the name of the health resource center, not the parent library).
Not on every item in the library but that was under discussion when the response was given.
This information is provided by the XX Health Sciences Library and is for informational purposes. It should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your health professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition.
A half sheet in hospital colors, provided with materials, with boxes to check
With Compliments the information provided should not be considered medical advice. It is not meant to replace professional medical service.
On every book, journal and video and on the wall at the bottom of a mission statement:
XX Hospital welcomes and invites you to use the information resources available through this consumer health library. Our resource collection is developed from recommendations and reviews from professional library and medical sources and our patrons' suggestions. Please be advised that XX Hospital does not necessarily endorse or support any of the materials you may review.
Please consult your health care professional for advice relating to health concerns.
When packets of information go out, the cover sheet has the statement
"This information is for general use and may not apply to you or your child's specific condition. It is not a substitute for medical care."
The cover sheet also says: "Please feel free to share this information with your doctor or other health professional."
A similar statement appears on information request forms (which people fill out when the librarian is not there or will need to send them info later). Next to all public access computers a small sign says:
"The XX Hospital is not responsible for the currency, accuracy, or decency of the material you may find on the Internet."
Plus the usual copyright disclaimer by the printer and photocopier and stamped on any copied material:
"Notice: The copyright law of the U.S. (Title 17 U.S. Code) governs reproduction of copyrighted material. The person using this equipment is liable for any infringement of this law" and I have a stamp with the same notice for articles or book excerpts.
At the bottom of printouts and emails:
Information supplied by the XX Family Resource Center is for educational use and may not apply to you or to your child's specific condition. It is NOT a substitute for medical care.