Online Patient Reviews: 6 Strategies For Doctors
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User Rank: Apprentice
2/24/2014 | 4:14:59 AM
Streisand Effect for litigious doctors
Doctors who skip reputation repair for defamation lawsuits should be told by their lawyer(s) about the Streisand Effect.


This is extracted from:



The Top Lawsuits Of 2013

by Steve Kaplan

December 20, 2013


Never Shout "He's a Tool!" On a Crowded Website?


Dr. David McKee, a Duluth neurologist at St. Luke's Hospital, was not laughing when he saw what one former client wrote about him on a doctor-rating website. The reviewer, Dennis Laurion, complained that McKee made statements that he interpreted as rude and quoted a nurse who had called the doctor "a real tool." As these statements echoed through the Internet, McKee felt his reputation was being tarnished. He sued, and so began a four-year journey that ended this year in the Minnesota Supreme Court.


Laurion was unhappy with the way McKee treated his father, who was brought to the doctor after he had a stroke. Laurion went to several rate-your-doctor sites to give his opinion. That's just free speech, isn't it?


It sure is, says Laurion's attorney, John D. Kelly of the Duluth firm Hanft Fride. "The court held that what my client was quoted as saying was not defamatory," he says. "I do think the Internet makes it much easier for persons exercising poor judgment to broadcast defamatory statements, however... a medium... doesn't change the quality of a statement from non-defamatory to defamatory."


But McKee's lawyer, Marshall Tanick, of Hellmuth & Johnson, says no matter where it was said, defamation is defamation. "The thing that's often misunderstood is that this was not just about free speech, but about making actual false statements," Tanick says. "The problem is today's unfettered opportunity to express opinion, whether or not the substance of what's said is true or not. We need some boundaries."


But boundaries were not on the minds of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Free speech was. Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote, "The point of the post is, 'This doctor did not treat my father well.' I can't grasp why that wouldn't be protected opinion." As to referring to the doctor as "a real tool," Justice Alan Page wrote that the insult "falls into the category of pure opinion because the term ... cannot be reasonably interpreted as a fact and it cannot be proven true or false."


The takeaway from this case might be the knowledge that behind any rating service lie real people with real feelings. McKee spent more than $60,000 in the effort to clear his name, as he saw it. Dennis Laurion told the Star Tribune he spent the equivalent of two years' income, some of which he had to borrow from relatives who supplied the money by raiding their retirement funds.


See rest of article:
User Rank: Author
2/20/2014 | 2:50:32 PM
Re: Embrace patient input
Interestingly, while there isn't a ton of research out there about healthcare-specific review sites, what there is points to reasons like you both mentioned, reasons that have little to nothing to do with the doctor or dentist's quality of care. You'd think things like waiting time, providing a bathroom for patients, and not allowing staff to smoke (or not hiring smokers) would be pretty easy to remedy -- but only if offices know those are why patients are moving on. Usually, practices don't know why patients leave. They only know they've gone when they get a request for files. 

It only makes sense patients will start using these sites more and more for doctors, dentists, and other healthcare providers. Whenever I've looked at them I've been disappointed at the parcity of comments, but have noticed improvement over the past year or two. Trying to block patients from using these systems only makes a provider suspect. Can you imagine going to any other service provider if they forced you to sign a "no ratings allowed" contract?! I don't think so!
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
2/20/2014 | 1:09:54 PM
Re: Embrace patient input
Exactly - how many patients just quietly up and leave a practice for reasons that the doctor or manager could have remedied. I bet we've all done it. I know I have, at least four times that I can think of offhand.

Millenials don't buy a cheeseburger without checking Yelp. You can bet these ratings will only grow in importance.

So, what's are some reasons you dumped a physician? For me, it was that one of his receptionists always smelled like smoke. Ick. Another had a bathroom only for staff - if patients needed to go while in waiting room, they sent you with a key to the one out in the hallway.
User Rank: Author
2/20/2014 | 11:17:42 AM
Embrace patient input
Medical practices need to embrace this discussion as a way to understand what's wrong. I've seen so many practices perform badly at the experience around the medical care -- pre-surgery communication, post-surgery follow-up, waiting room communication, and the like. Having spent 90 minutes waiting in my dentist office lobby Monday for an appointment, I'm plotting how i can switch practices, despite the big headaches involved. Wouldn't that practice rather know that and try to fix its considerable problems?
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