Removal and Censorship of Medical reviews online

When local blogger Timothy Lee walked into the office of dentist Dr. Cirka, he was asked to sign a “mutual privacy agreement” and transfer ownership of any public commentary he might write in the future concerning his experience with Dr. Cirka’s practice. With the rise of business review websites such as vitals, yelp, ratemds, and healthgrades doctors and physicians are now looking for legal ways to censor and remove negative reviews in order to protect their medical business.

consumer advocacy sites

Consumer Advocacy Sites

Jason Schultz of Doctored Reviews says if doctors want to people from posting negative reviews of their business on the internet, they should communicate more with their clients. Even the most successful businesses are expected to garner a few negative reviews, but doctors can ask satisfied patients to post positive reviews to balance out negative opinions. Such practice will respect patients’ right to freedom of speech and ultimately be better for medical businesses in the long run.

Most attorneys believe that even if patients do breach these types of non-disclosure agreements, they would not likely be held up in court. According to Wendy Seltzer, a physician seeking to use the copyright assignment to censor a review would have at least two serious legal problems. First, courts are unlikely to find the agreement to be a valid transfer of copyright, and second, courts are likely to find such reviews to be valid under the fair-use doctrine.

Furthermore, forcing prospective patients to sign such agreements has no effect on its stated goal which is to curb the fraudulent reviewers who are not bound by these agreements anyways. Even the most successful businesses are expected to garner a few negative reviews, but doctors can ask satisfied patients to post positive reviews to balance out negative opinions. Such practice will respect patients’ right to freedom of speech and ultimately be better for medical businesses in the long run.