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NOVEMBER 1, 2011

“Can One Bad Comment Or Online Review Ruin Your Practice?”

The Doctors Company

 Unhappy patients rarely retract derogatory or even defamatory statements made online. Should you fight the commenters?

 Fighting defamation, at least in some cases, might make the situation worse. Even if disgruntled commenters desist, the defamation is in the public domain and will circulate again and again.

Consider the following recent court case: A neurologist in Duluth, Minn., sued a family member of an unhappy patient for defamation because of a negative review written on a third-party website. The media picked up the story, multiplying the negative aspects of the case and presenting additional facts that were not supportive of the physician’s office staff. Ultimately, the case was dismissed by the judge, who declared that “the court does not find defamatory meaning, but rather a sometimes emotional discussion of the issues.”

Fighting commenters on an Internet review site can escalate a poor interaction or outcome into a full-blown complaint to the state medical board — as it did in Texas, where anonymous commenters and complainants led to medical board actions. In response, physicians banded together and pushed the passage of a law that prevents the Texas Medical Board from considering anonymous complaints against physicians for disciplinary actions. Other states may take up the issue as well.

If you should receive a negative or unfair comment or review online, avoid responding to the post. Review the comment from the point of view of a patient. Can any information shared in the comment help improve the practice? Trust that established, potential, or new patients will use their own intelligence and judgment when reading the post.

To help maintain positive relationships with your patients, consider the following ideas:

Trust your patients and your practice. Don’t have patients sign “gag orders” preventing them from commenting about their experience. This puts a therapeutic relationship onto a potentially adversarial footing.

Give patients a direct line to the practice through patient satisfaction surveys. Discuss the results in regular staff meetings and address any patient concerns.

Consider sending a letter to new patients after their first visit, thanking them for choosing the practice and stating that you hope to see them in the future.

Encourage satisfied patients to post their experience as well, to help balance the reviews.

SOURCE

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Web Posting

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply To Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Cease And Desist Letter To Defendant Dennis Laurion

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Complaint To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint To Sixth Judicial District Duluth Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Response To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Answer To Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Motion For Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Deposition Extracts

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances Before Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances After Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony In Response To Questions By Marshall Tanick

Affidavits By Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Parents

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Supplemental Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Motion To Oppose Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Memo In Support Of Motion For Summary Judgment

Sixth Judicial District Court’s Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Appeal Of Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Order To Strike Portion Of Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Announces Decision

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Petition For Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Opposition To Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Minnesota Supreme Court Decision On David McKee MD V. Dennis K. Laurion

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2010

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2011

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2012

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2013

McKee V Laurion Is A Textbook Case

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