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Doctors Ask Patients to Sign "No Online Criticism" Agreements

 12:52 am on Mar 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Some doctors have started fighting back against ugly Internet reviews by asking patients to abide by what are effectively gag orders that bar them from posting negative comments online.

Physicians are taking action as online ratings services such as Yelp and Angie's List grow in popularity and expand their reviews beyond restaurants and plumbers to include medical care, joining dedicated Web sites such as RateMDs.com.

SF Chronicle [sfgate.com]



 8:51 am on Mar 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Lets see $$$'s on a solicitor to draw up the agreement, or $$$'s on some online reputation management and improved customer service, why do people always make the depressing choice?


 8:57 am on Mar 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ever look at the forms they ask you to sign? Some doctors seem to take advantage of their client's situation. Among other things, some require you to surrender your right to seek legal remedies in court by requiring you to agree to arbitration first, or else they won't see you. So this is no surprise.

I understand it's not an easy job. It's among the most noble professions. Docs are under pressure on many sides. So is this unreasonable?


 11:01 am on Mar 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Coming from the UK, where there are no forms to sign, you want to see a Dr, you go see a Dr, I think this is beyond unresonable, just because it is a tough job doesn't mean that they should be able to protect themselves from reasonable criticism, They have the same recourse available to them as any other business when it comes to unfair reviews.

Perhaps if people had been mentioning Harold Shipman in internet review forums, a couple of dozen lives could have been saved.


 1:03 pm on Mar 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

On what do you base a review of a doctor? Unless you're a qualified medical practitioner, you can't make any judgements based on diagnosis and treatment. And even then any medic will tell you that self-diagnosis is for fools.

What's to review - bedside manner, warm hands, quality of handwriting, colour of curtains in the consulting room?



 1:57 pm on Mar 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

@sysygy; ok well let me give you a few reviews of my last experiences with a dr,

Review 1: I went in stating I had a sleep disorder, Dr 1 told me that I didn't have a sleep disorder and was obviously depressed (based on 5 min conversation) have me anti depressants. Doc 2 told me he would give me sleeping tablets if I came back in a month, Doc 3 referred me to a sleep specialist, who diagnosed me with.....the exact condition I had told Dr 1 I had 7 months previously.

Review 2. My grandmothers Dr prescribed her asprin, despite the fact that she had prev had a heart attack, and it was detailed on her medical record that she was on beta blockers she had to be admitted to hospital for a week to recover (this was the Dr who dealt with her after her heart attack)

Review 3: At 13 I went to the Dr with a highly personal problem, the Dr stated that I was being silly and that this was just attention seeking, and seemed to be a trendy thing for young people to do, and refused to refer me to a required specialist.

There is a lot that you can review a Dr on, as I'm sure you can see above.


 12:57 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Actually, I agree there is plenty to review a doctor for - bedside manner is truly important, is the staff polite and efficient, is the office area comfortable.

After a while with a condition a patient often understands the process and disease well, and can intelligently comment on the procedures of a particular physician.

That said, there have to be some limits. It's unfair to have a 20-year log of every mistake (and not the thousands of correct decisions) without recourse. There are also lots issues that a patient can't comment on well, and then you get a mess.

There is a big debate in the medical field on this issue. In addition to consumer sites, health insurance companies keep their own logs and ratings. They can adjust payments based on their metrics.


 1:17 pm on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Doctors should strike back by publishing names and details of wannabe patients that bother them with their imaginary problems.



 6:22 pm on Mar 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

>>a 20-year log of every mistake

Presumably, much like a good restaurant or efficient ecommerce vendor, the problematic reviews would be greatly outweighed by the positive ones.


 7:11 pm on Mar 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would not say self diagnosis is for fools. The amount if information out there is good, but you need to remember, it could be writen by anyone.

You find yourself feeling clamy, dizzy with a pain in the centre of your cheast that radiates to your jaw and left arm. You google your symptoms and wow it could be a heart attack. do you call an ambulance or say self diagnosis is for idiots, admit it could be indegestion and try and sleep it off.

Docs are human and will make mistakes. I think its only right that they should be open to public comment just like anyone else. This type off info may help patients make a more informed descision when they are seeking medical treatment.

There will be abuse of any type of review system. doctors bad mouthing other doctors is one example that springs to mind, but doctors are wrong to try and silence patient opinion.



 9:11 pm on Apr 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Excellent article from UK national newspaper The Independent on the pitfalls of Cyberchondria [independent.co.uk].



 12:33 am on Apr 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Doctors should strike back by publishing names and details of wannabe patients that bother them with their imaginary problems.

Nope, that would violate confidentiality.

Professional confidentiality is a major issue that must be kept in mind here. An ordinary business that got criticized would be free to respond by telling their side of the story, but professionals who are bound by rules about confidentiality do not have that recourse except perhaps in court.

We'll never hear, "Here's what really happened when Mrs. Jones came in ..."


 7:29 am on Apr 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

The tort system is the reason we're at the juncture. Not everyone will be happy with their medical treatment, but not every one of those feeling that way have a valid complaint...yet most hire an attorney who goes for the deep pockets (the doctor, the facility, the pharmecutical companies). Lengthy court battles are expensive, hence settlements without proof of fact. Doctors usually don't have bad reps, but they do have bad (unhappy) patients. The out of control judgments against doctors and hospitals (in the USA particularly) have brought us here.

And it might eventually become necessary to say on our sites: "Third party advertisers offer their products on our pages for a fee. We have nothing to do with them. If you are unhappy with the product please don't sue us."

I don't blame the doctors for these requirements before treatment. Their exposure is ENORMOUS with the schools of sharks circling in wait...


 5:50 pm on Apr 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

with all the options for other doctors, homeopathic, and other forms of alternative medicine, doctors wont be left without much of a patient roster if they try to control their patient's right to an opinion. i'd say go for it; i just wont be seen by you - there are millions that are just as qualified.

Professional confidentiality is a major issue that must be kept in mind here. An ordinary business that got criticized would be free to respond by telling their side of the story, but professionals who are bound by rules about confidentiality do not have that recourse except perhaps in court.

now i don't know how it is for a doctor, but if you sue a lawyer that once represented you for malpractice, he has a right to disclose all the activity that transpired during the professional relationship; it may be the same case for a doctor. i don't know the law in terms of responding to an online critique, but it should only be fair that doctors can respond to allegations and negative criticism by giving their side of the story and disclosing professional relationships in self-defense.


 5:45 am on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Doctors want zero accountability too, who doesn't. Isn't society grand?

100 years ago we had no pills and medicines comparable to what we have available today, in fact there is a pill for every symptom and a dozen generics versions as well.

100 years from now we'll see just how good doctors have been in choosing how to fix peoples complaints... hopefully society won't be severely diseased as a direct result of too much man made medication.

Hold on a sec, the TV commercial just told me to tell my doctor what to prescribe... gotta write this down.


 5:58 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

on a related note i remember last year dr's were defending their right to blog on patient experiences on npr:

is your doctor blogging about you? [npr.org]


 1:25 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Good memory, Neal. I suppose turnabout is fair play. ;) Of course, the docs can't name their patients. Otherwise, there might be an opportunity for patient rating sites, grading them on quality of insurance, degree of hypochondria, etc. :)


 2:20 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

I can't imagine being a doctor with today's "information".

As if it weren't bad enough before, now a thousand websites tell people what to tell their doctor to diagnose the with.

And what if your decade of education plus experience doesn't agree with his/her Google search? Now they'll go to another website and tell others that you don't know what you are doing.


 12:03 am on May 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Dr's have been 'blogging' about their patients for years - it's typically been done via coded shorthand scribbles on the record cards of their patients. One physician to another, sniggering behind sterile latex gloves...

How confident the lay-patient with the Google'd abstract of the peer-reviewed scientific paper in front of them?



 5:02 pm on May 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think it is outright dishonest not to allow someone to rate your business.

I think we should being a contract with us to the docs for them to sign or they don't get our biz.

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