June 30, 2011
“Doctor Plans To Appeal Ruling That Said Complaining About His Bedside Manner Was Not Defamation”
Mike Masnick, TECHDIRT
We recently wrote about a court ruling against a doctor who tried to sue someone who wrote some bad reviews about the doctor’s bedside manner online. Thankfully, the court ruled that those reviews were not defamatory. The court noted that the guy posting the material was clearly not happy with Dr. David McKee, but that: “In modern society, there needs to be some give and take, some ability for parties to air their differences…. Today, those disagreements may take place on various Internet sources. Because the medium has changed, however, does not make statements of this sort any more or less defamatory.”
Now, a smart doctor might take that lesson and move forward, and perhaps look into ways to respond reasonably to complaints. Or, there’s Dr. David McKee, who has announced that he has “no choice” but to appeal the ruling. That’s actually wrong. He has plenty of choices. For example, he could not appeal the ruling.
Amusingly, part of the reason that Dr. McKee is apparently filing the appeal is because he claims that the same guy started writing a bunch more critical messages about him online after the ruling came out. However, the guy, Dennis Laurion, insists that he hasn’t posted anything since the lawsuit began, and suggests that perhaps all of those anti-McKee posts came about because of the negative publicity associated with the lawsuit. Specifically, he notes that “there was an influx of Internet chatter about McKee after a link to a story about McKee appeared on the high-traffic website reddit.com.” So what next? Will Dr. McKee try to sue a bunch of Reddit posters too? I’m sure that will go over well.
That Anonymous Coward: Its your fault people think I am a horrible doctor! None of my actions can possibly lead to this! Personal Responsibility…. its dead…
Anonymous Coward: People should use this a lot more often. http://www.ratemds.com/doctor-ratings/1212092/Dr-David-McKee-DULUTH-MN.html
Nicedoggy: If anything that doctor deserves more bad reviews just for being so stupid.
tebee: You know who’s effect…. I think Dr McKee needs an introduction to my friend Ms. Streisand. I have this feeling he may not have heard of her, but will be getting to know her very well soon.
OtherKevin: One other choice… Improve his bedside manner. There have been numerous studies showing a strong link between negative bedside manner and malpractice lawsuits. Basically, the better your bedside manner and the more your patients like you personally, the less likely you are to be sued for malpractice, even when you screw up. But apparently this dude just LOVES spending money on lawyers.
The Devil’s Coachman: Sounds like this quack is someone to avoid. If it looks like a duck . . .
Senshikaze: What exactly is defamation? Can anyone explain the US defamation laws? It seems fairly arbitrary, what is the difference between a bad review and defamation? Though this doctor should be beaten by court order for his utter stupidity. It’s just a review. America needs to grow up and stop treating the legal system as a nanny.
DannyB: “Can anyone explain the US defamation laws? It seems fairly arbitrary, what is the difference between a bad review and defamation?” Defamation starts out life, in this situation, as a bad review. If the subject of the bad review is not merely incompetent, but also a litigious nut willing to spend money to sue everyone, then the bad review grows up and becomes defamation. In short: the difference is whether one can afford the money and vast waste of time of a lawyer. Hope that answers your question.
Brian Schroth: The bad review grows up and becomes defamation? Sounds like the makings of a Schoolhouse Rock song.
John William Nelson: A bad review is not defamation. U.S. defamation is essentially the intentional telling of an untruth that harms the reputation of another person. A bad review might be defamation, but it might not.
Noah V: Read the judge’s report On Point News posted the judge’s order as a .pdf.
FormerAC: Did you see the Google News search on Ratemds? When I followed the link to ratemds, I notice a box in the middle with a current “Google News” results for Dr. David Mckee … which is, of course, an article about him vowing to appeal the ruling, LOL
Any Mouse: Finding a doctor that you like is a very personal thing, which some people do not realize. There are doctors that I will have nothing to do. They’re great doctors. They have patients who truly love them and what they do. On the other hand, my personality clashes with his, and we do not ever see eye to eye. I think he’s rude, cold and argumentative. it’s all just personal opinions one way or the other. Now, if the doctor is a total screw-up, doesn’t know shit, and acts like he’s the best thing to come out of the medical profession, well… doubt anyone’s going to like him, anyways.
BeeAitch: I have to second this point. My significant other has numerous serious medical issues. Her doctor has been nothing less than excellent with her care. He has gone above and beyond simple care and attention to health. He has given her his home phone number so she can call him when we have to take a trip to the emergency room (happens usually at least twice a month). The same doctor was on duty at the ER when I came in with a case of acute pancreatitis. I ended up leaving that hospital and going to another(I even removed my own IV lines and walked out when they told me I couldn’t check myself out). I did not get along with him at all as a patient. I know he is an excellent doctor, but his bedside manner really pissed me off. This man is probably the best doctor I have ever known, and is a pleasant person for me to deal with in a non-doctor/patient relationship. He and I butted heads about my care, and he is not my doctor now. If I gave a review, it might very well sound negative to another even though he is an excellent doctor. Any review should be taken with a grain of salt.
Reddit Reader: So what next? Will Dr. McKee try to sue a bunch of Reddit posters too? This doctor’s profile is at Vitals . Before his ratings is a field called General Information. On 9/28/11 it says “Personal Statement: This site, and similar sites are an unreliable way of assessing physicians. They are easily abused and virtually no surveillance is undertaken by the site to prevent this. My ratings and comments have been contaminated by a very malicious person, Dennis Laurion and friends of his who have made well over 100 negative postings on Vitals and Health Grades. Mr. Laurion’s entries have been dishonest and those of his acquaintances pure fiction. Vitals should not allow anonymous comments and should make it easier for physicians to remove blatantly false or fictional ones. Health Grades was very responsive and quickly identified the 60+ bogus entries and removed them. Vitals has been remarkably difficult to work with. Even after acknowledging the fact that most or all of the negative ratings were bogus it took week to get them to do even a partial retraction. They have agreed to provide IP addresses for suspicious entries; that is something I suppose.” So, yes, it appears Dr. McKee might try to sue a bunch of Reddit posters.