Cry Baby Doctors Want Patients to Stop Complaining

March 9, 2009

Some doctors are trying to gag their patients from complaining about bad care.  Anyone who’s had to wait an hour then actually seen the doc for only 30 seconds or had to deal with rude, condescending behavior or, worse, had actual harm done to them, should pay close attention to this.  These doctors are asking patients to sign contracts saying they won’t post negative comments about them online.  Websites like RateMDs.com have popped up all over the internet to give patients an outlet to warn other prospective patients about bad doctors, but these MD’s think they have the right to stomp on their patient’s First Amendment right to free speech.  Read more below.

Docs Seek Gag Orders to Stop Patients’ Reviews

By LINDSEY TANNER

The Associated Press-CHICAGO

The anonymous comment on the Web site RateMDs.com was unsparing: “Very unhelpful, arrogant,” it said of a doctor. “Did not listen and cut me off, seemed much too happy to have power (and abuse it!) over suffering people.” Such reviews are becoming more common as consumer ratings services like Zagat’s and Angie’s List expand beyond restaurants and plumbers to medical care, and some doctors are fighting back.

They’re asking patients to agree to what amounts to a gag order that bars them from posting negative comments online.

“Consumers and patients are hungry for good information” about doctors, but Internet reviews provide just the opposite, contends Dr. Jeffrey Segal, a North Carolina neurosurgeon who has made a business of helping doctors monitor and prevent online criticism.

Some sites “are little more than tabloid journalism without much interest in constructively improving practices,” and their sniping comments can unfairly ruin a doctor’s reputation, Segal said.

Segal said such postings say nothing about what should really matter to patients – a doctor’s medical skills – and privacy laws and medical ethics prevent leave doctors powerless to do anything it.

His company, Medical Justice, is based in Greensboro, N.C. For a fee, it provides doctors with a standardized waiver agreement. Patients who sign agree not to post online comments about the doctor, “his expertise and/or treatment.”

“Published comments on Web pages, blogs and/or mass correspondence, however well intended, could severely damage physician’s practice,” according to suggested wording the company provides.

Segal’s company advises doctors to have all patients sign the agreements. If a new patient refuses, the doctor might suggest finding another doctor. Segal said he knows of no cases where longtime patients have been turned away for not signing the waivers.

Doctors are notified when a negative rating appears on a Web site, and, if the author’s name is known, physicians can use the signed waivers to get the sites to remove offending opinion.

Click here to read the entire article on the ABC News website.