1. What are some principles should go by to help avoid misunderstanding or legal problems in doing hydrotherapy?
Focusing on the term “education” in reference to using natural healing methods, instead of “therapy” can prevent legal risk. In teaching about natural methods it's better to use terms such as "comfort measures" when possible. If you suggest there could be healing effects be sure to use terms like "possibly" or "may have healing effects for some."
In many places it can be considered a crime or incur risk of litigation for someone unlicensed to perform therapies on people, so if you don't have a license to perform hydrotherapy (such as a physical therapy license or massage license) you must avoid misunderstanding by making it very clear that whatever you do is for educational purposes only. You must also strongly encourage individuals to seek their doctor's advice about whether it is appropriate for them or not before proceding to to it.
Have individuals sign a waiver informing them that there are potential risks involved saying that they understand you are not trying to diagnose or treat any condition and recommend that they follow their health care provider’s advice.
Always inform people of potential risks and precautions involved. Always caution people that every method may have potential risks or uncomfortable side effects, and advise them to stop immediately and seek medical attention if necessary if they become uncomfortable (for example, with a hot foot bath).
Always take a health history and teach people about medical conditions which would be contraindications for doing any technique (for example, diabetics should never take hot foot baths because it could cause damage to the tissues and they are at risk for infection and/or foot amputations).
Consider potential side effects, interactions with medications they might be taking, and other precautions.
Don’t make great claims, promise miracle cures or magic. Such tactics can result in great misunderstanding as well as lawsuits.
Never try to talk above the level of your training or answer health questions you don’t understand.
Don’t diagnose anything or give medical advice unless you are a physician. You may share generally available health information based on research, etc. but be extremely careful not to come accross as advising them. Clarify the source of the information, or mention that you heard about some research and encourage them to find out further information for themselves in cooperation with their doctors.
Don’t advise people to stop taking their medications, this can cause serious injury or death.
Encourage people to continue following up with their physician regarding any health problems and to cooperate with primary care provider's advice.
Encourage peopel not to overdo anything! If a little is good, more is not necessarily better.
Advice people to discontinue and seek medical help if any negative side effects develop.
2. Understanding the role of natural methods such as hydrotherapy in healthcare
Natural remedies can often be used for simple discomforts. Medications or surgery are appropriate for emergencies or more serious problems. Healthy lifestyle changes are foundational and one of the most important parts of the picture.
There is no substitute for healthful lifestyle change. The reason why many “magic cures” are so popular is because people hope for a quick fix that doesn’t require changing their habits. Even useful natural methods such as hydrotherapy or massage cannot substitute for a helping people make healthful lifestyle changes.
The action of natural healing methods is often slower and gentler than drugs and they must be continued for a period of time to see effects. Because of this, it’s best to continue medications and regular doctor visits for monitoring to check up on the status of improvement as well as to watch for unwanted side effects or complications.