Doctors Trying to Protect Reputations by Limiting Patients Speech

by John McKiggan

Doctors are still doing everything they can to prevent patients from posting negative comments on doctor ratings websites like Rate MDs.

I have discussed how some doctors in the United States require patients to sign a contract agreeing not to post negative comments about the doctor online before the doctor will agree to treat the patient: Doctors Forcing Patients to Sign Gag Orders.

One doctor sued her own patient for posting a negative review of the care provided by the doctor:Doctor Sues to Silence Patient .

Public Relations Problem

I think we can all agree that suing your own patient is a bit of a public relations problem for doctors who want to be seen as sympathetic and caring.

Becoming More Creative

It appears that some physicians are becoming a little more subtle in their efforts to manage their online reputations. Yesterday CBC reported that some doctors are requiring patients to sign an agreement that transfers the copyright (ownership) to the doctor for any comments posted by a patient about the doctor. Very clever.

Doctor Controls Patients Comments

Under such an arrangement, patients can are free to post reviews online. If the doctor likes what their patient says about them, presumably they will allow the commnets to remain online. But if a patient posts any negative comments, since the doctor owns the copyright to the comments, the doctor can contact the website and request that the comments be deleted.

Fighting a Losing Battle

I think the genie is out of the bottle on this. The internet simply provides too much opportunity for the free and open exchange of information. Doctors (and lawyers and other professionals) need to face that fact and treat their patients (and clients and customers) accordingly.

What do you think?

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