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I am still developing an app and it is getting pretty close to being finished. I am just a single developer, so I do not have anyone who can tell me what to put in it.

My app is medical-related (it logs and calculates things related to insulin. So it is pretty significant). However, it is not approved by any official "doctor", but I am sure all calculations are correct.

Now, although it may never happen, what if someone blames my app for user error? (Or perhaps it is my fault), and they give themselves to much insulin, or not enough. Then they go the hospital and sue me for the medical bills. Well, I make hardly anything right now (I am still a student), so clearly I can't get involved in this.

The resolution for this is to create a license that in addition to protecting my property, also allows me to avoid legal issues. I know I should have something about "Check with your doctor before using. We are not responsible for damages to the user or this device."

What should I include in my app? Also, I do not want to phrase it so that the user gets all freaked out and doesn't use it. Thanks.

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Welcome to Programmers! Software licensing is generally on-topic. However, the specific nature of your question is outside the programming expertise of the community and you should plan on consulting with an attorney in your area. –  GlenH7 Jan 16 '13 at 20:04
How useful is your app, really, if users have no way of knowing whether they can trust it to give them the right information? If someone said "Here, you can take this airplane for a ride. The plane seems to work, and we're sure we did the calculations correctly, but it's not FAA certified and, by the way, we're not liable for anything bad that happens," would you be willing to sit in the passenger's seat? –  Caleb Jan 16 '13 at 20:34
@Josiah You are asking software developers for legal advice for an application that is a litigous minefield. You need to pay an attorney to draft something for you. –  maple_shaft Jan 16 '13 at 20:49
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closed as off topic by GlenH7, Caleb, Martijn Pieters, gnat, maple_shaft Jan 16 '13 at 20:47

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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

To get yourself a license that will actually have a chance of protecting you, you're gonna need a lawyer to draft it. No standard boilerplate is going to do it

Now, you also need to consider whether this thing you've made comes under the purview of the FDA. I see from your profile that you are in the US, and it sounds like you are calculating drug dosages, so you better pay attention to them if it does.

Again, you're gonna need a lawyer or someone in the industry to evaluate the claims your software makes, and whether that puts you into FDA territory.

I note that there are several apps out there doing insulin calculations, but I don't know if they are legit from the FDA's point of view or not.

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Thanks, though not really what I was hoping for. :) But you are saying that I may need to bring the FDA into this? Also, I know nothing about lawyers, so will this cost me much. Since I am guessing that my profit from this app will be quite low (How many diabetics are on iOS, and will download my app?) –  Josiah Jan 16 '13 at 20:22
Can't he just put a standard statement that the software is provided "as is.." that is available in almost any open-source license? –  SkyDan Jan 16 '13 at 20:26
@SkyDan - if you make claims about a medical device, then it's pretty hard to weasel word your way out from under the FDA. The FDA simply doesn't take 'as-is' for an answer with medical devices. It MIGHT be OK in this case (as I noted, there are other such apps in existence), but this isn't phone numbers, private keys, or even bank accounts on the line - it's people's lives. If the app mis-computes a dose due to programmer error, someone could EASILY die, and no amount of verbiage is going to get you off the hook in that case. –  Michael Kohne Jan 16 '13 at 20:41
And you need to be aware of the HIPAA rules concerning patient data. An app like this can get you in serious legal trouble if you don't protect patient privacy properly. If you don't know what HIPAA is and whether you are compliant, you had better not sell this app. –  HLGEM Jan 16 '13 at 20:46
@MichaelKohne, I just wanted to point out that he is going to have to prove that he isn't collecting the data behind the scenes. And to point out that there is alot you need to know besides programming if you intend to work in a highly regulated area. –  HLGEM Jan 16 '13 at 21:35
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