Doctor, my nays: Physicians strike back at online reviews

scrubsLike restaurants and hair stylists, doctors now have to face the public, in the form of reviews posted on the Internet. Some are trying to get patients to sign promises not to post negative comments — or any comments at all. It’s even spawned at least one new business: Medical Justice, in Greensboro, North Carolina, sells a standard waiver agreement.

Patients who sign agree not to post online comments about the doctor, “his expertise and/or treatment.”

It seems like swimming upstream in the Internet age, but let’s do some point/counterpoint:

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, [Medical Justice founder Dr. Jeffrey] Segal said….

John Swapceinski, co-founder of, said that in recent months, six doctors have asked him to remove negative online comments based on patients’ signed waivers. He has refused. “They’re basically forcing the patients to choose between health care and their First Amendment rights, and I really find that repulsive.”…

“Are there bad doctors out there? Absolutely, but this is not a good way to figure it out,” [Chicago gynecologist Lauren] Streicher said.

Ars techica comments:

Review sites will only continue to increase in popularity—though potential customers should always take what they read online with a grain of salt. Instead of fighting the trend, doctors need to embrace the new reality and maybe even use the reviews as an opportunity to improve themselves.

[Image: Scrubs, by ndanger]

One thought on “Doctor, my nays: Physicians strike back at online reviews”

  1. Our project is doing a paper on this topic, and postulating an AI agent that protects patients interests (and the same with nurses, hospital staff, MDs, specialists, administrators, insurers etc.) and can actually (a) negotiatie with other agents (b) crowdsource and (c) ask advice on forums/wikis. Patients are way too vulnerable in the current situation and that needs to change – I hope the market provides solutions.

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