The local review site Yelp has been under fire lately from some businesses
that aren't happy with reviews people have written about them, or how they're displayed on the site. Not that this is anything new: people have sued
the site for defamation before, while others have tried to game
the system to make their businesses look more popular. But now, some doctors are trying to get patients to sign waivers saying they won't post comments about their doctors online
(via Information Week
). A company has set up a service that provides doctors with the waivers, then monitors review sites for comments about them. If they find a comment on one of the subscribing doctors, they attempt to use the waivers to get the sites to remove it. Of course, most of the comments are anonymous, so it's not clear exactly how they link a particular comment to a particular patient who's signed a waiver, and at least one site has refused to comply.
The founder of the service says the only thing that should matter to patients are a doctor's medical skills -- but that hardly seems true. Certainly they play a large role in determining a patient's happiness with their care, but there's the oft-referred-to "bedside manner" that also plays key part. Consumers have the right to as much information about their medical caregivers as they need to feel comfortable, but it can often be difficult to ascertain. That seems to play into doctors' hands, so it's hard to see these attempts to gag patients as little more than a further attempt to stifle
anything that challenges the status quo in the world of medicine.