Some Doctors Muzzling Patient Reviews
Ratings and reviews of service professionals are increasingly sought when consumers are ready to make a choice. But doctors and hospitals remain a last frontier in review-dom. And that’s the way it will remain, if some elements in the medical community have their way.
Medical “gag orders” are now in use by a small group of doctors in a range of specialties, reports the May edition of Angie’s List‘s monthly magazine. Patients are being required to sign a document binding them from “directly or indirectly publishing or airing commentary about the doctor or medical care.”
The contracts have been set in motion by a Greensboro, North Carolina, company called Medical Justice Corp., which was originally founded to halt frivolous malpractice lawsuits. It added the gag order contracts in 2007. More than 1,000 doctors are now using the contracts, and Medical Justice takes credit for having successfully pulled a handful of comments from doctor-rating Web sites.
The legality of the contracts have been questioned by Angie’s List and others. But the article notes that one of the intentions of the contract is probably to force careful processes for reviewing.
Angie’s List has been soliciting medical reviews for many months, and is telling members of the press that it will launch a separate premium membership for medical reviews in early 2010.
This Post Has 2 Comments
This is interesting. The reviews discussion with doctors is a sticky one.
Compared with other local services like restaurants, it’s harder for the customer (patient) to tell whether he received good treatment. There is less transparency and much more complexity with medical care. A doctor might get judged on bedside manner alone, rather than skills as a surgeon or other things like that.
And the outcome isn’t always indicative of the physician’s talent. I’ve heard it argued that good doctors attract more sick people, and actually have worse track records in terms of final health outcome. So if you go by that measure, it’s probably not the best way to gauge best doctors.
Sometimes good doctors get bad reviews and I can see how there might be a legitimate backlash against it. But the gag order thing is a little ridiculous.There’s gotta be a better way.
Mike, medical reviews is a dicey area for sure. Who is the average layperson to judge a medical authority?
But that said, I did get a very good specialist for my mother-in-law from Angie’s List. They can be really helpful if people stick to basic things, like demeanor, cleanliness of office, helpfulness.