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    Easy tips for physicians to address negative online patient reviews

    Patients increasingly turn to the Internet to express their opinions—positive and negative—about the physicians who provide their healthcare. The disgruntled patient has multiple online outlets on which to provide his or her views. Given that prospective patients consult such reviews when choosing a physician, it is important for doctors to be aware of their online reputation and to guard against unfair comments.

    When confronted with online criticism, physicians are left questioning their options. Should they contact the patient or the website? Should they start a defamation lawsuit? Here are the steps to take.

    Step 1: Investigate

    Research the nature and extent of the negative content and determine whether the critic can be identified. This is crucial as the strategy chosen will be driven by the underlying facts. If the physician knows who the online critic is, he or she must decide whether to contact the person.


    Even more advice: 5 tips for tactfully combatting negative patient reviews


    If you know the commenter: Address or confront

    The characteristics of the critic will determine whether a friendly or assertive approach is in order. If the physician decides to reach out in a friendly manner, the general goals are to try to find a way to resolve the attacker’s underlying complaint and to ask for the damaging post to be removed. 

    Next: Do you file a lawsuit?


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    • [email protected]
      I had a negative review written about me that I considered to be totally inaccurate. I sued immediately. Two days after the patient received the paperwork, the comment was gone. I advise my fellow physicians to do the same if they feel a comment is unfair.
    • UBM User
      It is a HIPAA violation to identify or directly respond to an online review. The California Medical Association suggests the following language “ Our practice takes patient concerns seriously. Federal laws preclude us from responding to patient concerns publicly. If you are our patient, please contact our office directly at ------- so we can address your concerns confidentially. Dr. Randall Pham, San Jose has successfully sued a patient for negative reviews and set case precedent here in California. You may wish to interview him for a follow up article.

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