I was enjoying my Sunday morning attending to my Social Media responsibilities just minutes before I planted myself on the couch to watch nine (9) hours of NFL Football when I came across an article entitled, “Doctors can compel you to remove negative reviews from Angie’s List” by Ed Oswald. Mind you, this article is only about SOME DOCTORS and primarily focuses on the company drafting these agreements for your Doctor which ask you to sign a contract giving up your Freedom of Speech so whatever you write about him or her online is owned by your Doctor. Accordingly, if your Doctor is unhappy with a negative review or for whatever reason wants to take down your opinion, he or she can do so. That company is Medical Justice.
I am not an advocate of Physician-rating websites because it has been my experience that the Doctor-Patient interaction contains so many subjective variables that quantifying a rating for the experience is more likely than not to be misleading. However, there are some companies who are trying to nevertheless help us Patient-Consumers by devising such Ratings Systems. I maintain that this type of Ratings System is akin to developing a scale for physical (and superficial) “Good-Looking-ness” BUT I do appreciate the efforts of these companies since they are trying to help. Some of the more reputable of such Ratings companies are listed in the Ed Oswald article above and they include RateMDs.com, Angie’s List and HealthGrades.
But what this company Medical Justice and these complicit doctors are doing is APPALLING!!! To think that the Repairman who comes to your house to fix your Dishwasher has higher ethical standards that your Doctor, is disgusting. Think about it: Would ANY Repairman ask a Consumer to sign a contract giving away the right of the much cherished Freedom of Speech not to comment on the Repairman’s services on the Web? Of course not! In fact, a Repairman would want to do such a good job that after he is done you are motivated to actually go on-line and comment about his work so he can get new customers. What are doctors afraid are of and what gives them the moral high ground to take away another citizen’s Freedom of Speech?
Moreover, young men and women of the United States Armed Forces are putting their lives on the line EVERY DAY for US citizens to have this right. What can possibly trump that incredibly honorable and selfless act? The ONLY exception that makes sense to me is if some lunatic patient libels or slanders them or if a patient falsely accuses them of physically attacking or touching another patient. Such actions can irreparably damage a professional reputation and must be immediately addressed. However, there are different forums of legal recourse for those despicable crimes. But to resort to silencing a patient’s Freedom of Speech in order for him or her to get medical treatment is despicable and should be reason enough for said patient to RUN and choose a different physician. The arrogance of some doctors is astounding.
I’ve always felt that rating medical professionals on the web would be a slippery slope. Based on the foregoing, it would seem I was correct but I never imagined some doctors would go so far as to trample on a patient’s Freedom of Speech. As a consumer, would you accept such stifling agreements from other Service Providers? I think not.