Trashed on the Internet: What Should You Do?

Gail Garfinkel Weiss, BBA, MSW


January 04, 2010

In This Article

Physician Rating Sites: Doctors Talk Back

What do doctors think of physician rating Websites? As might be expected, views range from anger to acceptance to versions of "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

"Some people are just angry and depressed and will vent at any target, given the opportunity. They want to be heard. Still, the negative comments that are posted online about us must clear our ego and enter into us so that we can learn about ourselves."

-- Steven Kamajian, family physician, Montrose, California.

"A patient gave me a very low rating. He also stated that I had kicked him out of my practice because I didn't know how to take care of him. Actually, I booted him because he was a drug seeker who went from doctor to doctor; he had over 14 Rxs for narcotics from over 10 doctors within a few months.

"Nonetheless, I don't think these sites do lot of damage because they don't have any real power. Sure, some patients will look at them, but 80% of my patients come from family and physician referrals and the other 20% come because of proximity. So those sites really have no influence but to bruise our egos."

-- Anonymous, Indiana

"While most of my patients like me, there are a few that leave dissatisfied when I do not give them what they believe they are entitled to. For example, I am strict about compliance with chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and patients on chronic pain medications. I do not see my patients as customers but rather as individuals that I want to help even when the obstacle to improving their outcome is themselves.

"While I could ask my patients to write 'nice things' about me online, I do not believe that I should be recruiting an army to defend me. Instead, I plan to focus my time on patient care and not on misinformation on the Web."

-- Gil M. Holland, family physician, Chandler, Arizona

"I've changed jobs twice since 1997, and the information on these sites is way out of date for address, hospital associations, and such. I imagine the other fields are just as old. This doesn't inspire confidence."

-- Sarah Towne, family physician, Walnut Creek, California

"I think doctor rating sites are worthless and potentially dangerous. Most likely, the only people who would take the time to post would be those who had a bad experience and want to vent. People who like their doctor aren't going to go looking for a place online to tell others. I certainly wouldn't recommend that anyone choose a doctor based on reviews at such sites."

-- Steven Gitler, family physician, Camden, NJ

"As physicians, it's important to know how we are viewed by our patients. Just as we must prescribe medicine after evaluating its benefits vs its burdens, we must be aware of where and how we have failed our patients. If we discover a negative review, justified or not, we must be willing to evaluate why it occurred."

-- Melvin H. Kirschner, family physician, Granada Hills, California

"The World Wide Web is great for anonymity. As the saying goes, on the Internet, no one knows you're a dog. At least, this is true for the accuser. The accused is identified. I think we as Americans should have a problem with this.

"We should also have a problem with the physician being expected to keep silent. It strikes me that, if a patient is going to accuse a doctor, there should be no anonymity allowed and there should be an automatic waiver of confidentiality. This could serve as a check and balance."

-- Tom Benzoni, emergency physician, Sioux City, Iowa


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