Patients are becoming more vocal about their experiences with their physician, cosmetic surgeon and plastic surgery office with the help of online doctor ratings websites. These sites allow them to share their thoughts with the masses and even persuade others to work with a certain doctor – or steer clear of them.
Posting false reviews or reports is easy enough, which is why Medical Justice, a company that wants to protect physicians from ‘frivolous lawsuits and defamation’, is encouraging doctors to take a stand and take action if the critics succeed in making them lose patients.
Thousands of doctors tackle false malpractice claims and Internet defamation each year, and these cases are increasing as patients turn to website ratings systems that grade their doctors and post comments – genuine or fictional – on blogs, forums and other online communication channels.
While ratings sites offer several benefits for prospective patients looking for the right doctor, they can also be the source of libelous claims and ruin the doctor’s reputation. As MedicalJustic.com states, “Anonymous web postings by disgruntled patients can threaten your good name and practice. Most medical practices are built through word of mouth. It only takes one negative Internet posting to impact your livelihood.”
Medical Justice is giving physicians a chance to take a stand against defamation online and malpractice lawsuits. The company offers ‘protection plans’ for doctors who want to ward off underserved loss and distress from malpractice suits and damages to their reputation. The company encourages doctors to become a Plan Member so that they can bring malpractice lawsuits and false claims forward for a formal review before the case goes to trial. The company also provides licenses to use contracts that explain what will happen if the patient pursues a malpractice claim, and how they will enforce the contract in court.
Currently, sites such as myDocHub.com and Healthgrades.com allow patients to rate their doctors, download background checks and even access criminal records. Patients can also view comments about procedures and services from past patients, but in most cases, there is little verification of the patient posting the reviews involved. RealSelf.com, a site that allows patients and doctors to participate in an online community, gives doctors a chance to post responses of patient reviews, and does not allow patients to reference a particular doctor as part of their agreement with using the site.