DECEMBER 14, 2012
“Physicians: The One Thing You Should Not Do if a Patient Posts Negative Online Reviews”
Dan Hinmon, Principal, Social Media Strategy Blog
There are many good things a physician can do if a patient posts negative comments about him or her on a physician review site. But first of all let’s make absolutely clear what a physician should NOT do in response to negative comments: Do NOT sue the patient.
The lawsuit filed by Dr. David McKee, a neurologist from Duluth, Minnesota, is a case in point. Dr. McKee sued a patient’s son for defamation after he posted negative online reviews. Apparently the son was spreading the heinous charge that Dr. McKee is “a real tool.”
The case has been pursued all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, with witnesses called to reinforce the fact that the son of his patient really did refer to Dr. McKee as “a real tool.”
Is there anyone on earth thinking right now, “Hey, I think I’ll call that guy Dr. McKee for an appointment today. He’s really standing up for unfair attacks on physicians.”
So please, physicians, don’t sue your patients over negative online reviews. Instead, learn from them.
- Pick your battles.
- Use the feedback to improve your practice.
- Craft a response that demonstrates a commitment to improvement.
- Reach out to the patient who posted the negative review.
- Work with the rating service to get truly libelous reviews removed
- Encourage happy patients to post reviews.
Much better advice than a lawsuit!
Hive Strategies gives webinars, presentations and workshops to help hospitals and physician clinics learn the skills they need to thrive during health care reform. Read about our services. Start a conversation. Email us or call us at 503-472-5512.
DENNIS LAURION: Although the Minnesota Supreme Court ultimately dismissed this lawsuit, this entire experience has been distressing to my family. We were initially shocked and blindsided by “jocular” comments made so soon after my father’s stroke by somebody who didn’t know us. We were overwhelmed by my being sued after posting a consumer opinion, and we were shocked by the rapidity with which it happened. It has been the 800 pound gorilla in the room. My parents would be 88-year-old witnesses. My mother and wife prefer no discussion, because they don’t want to think about it. Conversation with my father only reminds him of his anger over this situation. My siblings and children don’t often bring it up, because they don’t know how to say anything helpful. I have been demoralized by three years of being called “Defendant Laurion” in public documents. While being sued for defamation, I have been called a passive aggressive, an oddball, a liar, a coward, a bully, a malicious person, and a zealot family member. I’ve been said to have run a cottage industry vendetta, writing 19 letters, and posting 108 adverse Internet postings in person or through proxies. That’s not correct. In reality, I posted ratings at three consumer rating sites, deleted them, and never rewrote them again.