To Respond or Not Respond to Positive Reviews, That is the Question?

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions to doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

 

Hard to imagine Hamlet pondering that riddle.

Practices frequently ask whether they should respond to online positive reviews.

We generally advise against it.

Why?

The way most practices do it, it’s a “technical breach” of HIPAA. For example, the patient writes, “Thanks Dr. S for doing a great job. Your surgery on me was a success and I was back at work in 4 days.” Typical response: “We’re delighted to have satisfied patients like you in our practice.”

What’s the problem?

You are acknowledging the patient is actually a patient in your practice. Even though the patient has “outed” themselves publicly, HIPAA does not allow you to disclose protected health information unless the patient provides advance signed authorization or there is a statutory exception. Almost no practice has the patient’s signed authorization to respond publicly to positive reviews. And if you’d like a list of statutory exceptions with HIPAA, head over here and pull out some popcorn. Responding to positive online reviews will not be found in this list.

We do believe that responding to the occasional negative review is a good idea, if it is done without acknowledging the poster is your patient and if you do not disclose protected health information. If done, care must be taken to make sure the response complies with HIPAA. The goal is not to get into a debate with the patient, escalating to WWIII. It’s to educate the public as to how your practice solves problems. Not to demonstrate how you are right and the patient is wrong.

Next, by responding to all positive reviews, there will be so many more “potential breaches.” If you respond to the occasional negative review with a HIPAA compliant response, this is an infrequent occurrence. If you are responding to all positive reviews, you will likely have more reviews to respond to. This means more opportunities to get it wrong.

Finally, the most practical reason we advise against it. You are thanking someone for the thanks. It’s hard to come up with original material that looks authentic and heart-felt. If you are truly gifted in crafting original material for each positive review, thanking them for the thanks, you’ve missed your calling. Quit your day-job and head to Hollywood to become a script writer. You’ll be handsomely compensated for your unique skill.

Is the risk in responding to positive reviews high? Not at all. Happy patients generally don’t complain to the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services. But a happy patient today can be an unhappy patient tomorrow. 

So, what to do?

Back to Hamlet. We generally advise thanking the patient “old school.” Call them, send an email, or reference it next time they see you in the office. They will interpret your acknowledgement as much more personal. 

What do you think?

 

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions to doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

 

Jeffrey Segal, MD, JD

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Dr. Jeffrey Segal, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Medical Justice, is a board-certified neurosurgeon. Dr. Segal is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; the American College of Legal Medicine; and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society. In the process of conceiving, funding, developing, and growing Medical Justice, Dr. Segal has established himself as one of the country’s leading authorities on medical malpractice issues, counterclaims, and internet-based assaults on reputation.

Dr. Segal was a practicing neurosurgeon for approximately ten years, during which time he also played an active role as a participant on various state-sanctioned medical review panels designed to decrease the incidence of meritless medical malpractice cases.

Dr. Segal holds a M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, where he also completed a neurosurgical residency. Dr. Segal served as a Spinal Surgery Fellow at The University of South Florida Medical School. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa as well as the AOA Medical Honor Society. Dr. Segal received his B.A. from the University of Texas and graduated with a J.D. from Concord Law School with highest honors.

In 2000, he co-founded and served as CEO of DarPharma, Inc, a biotechnology company in Chapel Hill, NC, focused on the discovery and development of first-of-class pharmaceuticals for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Segal is also a partner at Byrd Adatto, a national business and health care law firm. Byrd Adatto was selected as a Best Law Firm in the 2023 edition of the “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News – Best Lawyers. With over 50 combined years of experience in serving doctors, dentists, and other providers, Byrd Adatto has a national pedigree to address most legal issues that arise in the business and practice of medicine.

How to Respond to Negative Patient Reviews: A Doctor’s Complete Guide

An image depicting a bad review.
We are a group of physicians that have been working with the Medical Justice eMerit team for the past 9 years. They have helped us obtain many more reviews from our patients by streamlining the process and making it much more convenient for our patients. They have also helped us in the process of flagging and getting fictitious reviews removed. Throughout our experience with them, they have been highly effective, honest, timely, talented and professional. If you are looking for a service to help manage your reviews, we highly recommend them.
Elliott23232323
Elliott23232323
14:44 17 Jan 24
The competence and responsiveness of the Medical Justice / eMerit team is remarkable. We have been super impressed with Robin and Josh, and their entire team. We ran a "test" with them and we've been more than happy to give them more business. They are now our go-to group. Thanks again, Team Medical Justice!
Christopher Scully
Christopher Scully
13:54 15 Dec 23
I have been a client for many years and have appreciated Medical Justice's expertise and numerous perks including internet defamation prevention. The team was readily responsive to my needs and helped to remove an unwarranted negative online post. It's difficult enough to practice medicine, much less maintain one's professional online reputation. I highly recommend Medical Justice for any medical professional.
Sohail Delfani, MD
Sohail Delfani, MD
17:05 25 Oct 23
Very enjoyable experience
Brittan Willimon
Brittan Willimon
21:13 09 Jan 23
Totally worth it! I had an issue with a very large insurance company threatening to remove me from their network. Contacted Medical Justice right away. Within lass then a week, Dr. Segal had crafted a magnificent 60-page appeal! Insurance company kept me in network, which saved me a lot of hassle and headache. Worth every penny!
Barbara Wood
Barbara Wood
18:01 13 Dec 22
I have used emerit for 10 years and have been extremely pleased with their service. highly recommend to all medical professionals especially plastic surgeons. very responsive CEO and staff. thanks!!!
Neil Zemmel
Neil Zemmel
13:56 13 Apr 22
When hiring someone professionally fortheir advice, the most important aspectfor me is their time that they give me todiscuss what I need to get the job done.Dr. Segal was always available whenever Ineeded to speak. He is extremelyknowledgeable, patient and kind. He hasthe unique perspective of the legalprofession from a doctors point of view.This is priceless in terms of understandinga Doctor's concerns.
Endodontic Group
Endodontic Group
00:38 31 Jan 22
I would say Medical-Dental Justice is a Level I Trauma Center for the legal matters of health practitioners. Your matters are handled STAT and in a professional and assuring manner. In a legal sense, they set you up with tools for preventive care, assist when there is an injury and handle the legal traumas. Rest assured that the legal injury will be minimized or they will rehab the situation a bring you back to legal health. No physician or dentist should be without this service...period.
Edward Kirsh
Edward Kirsh
21:17 30 Jan 22
I highly recommend Dr. Segal for all doctors who would like to have a bullet proof practice and avoid unnecessary litigation and threat by patients. He is always available and punctuate with time. We have a very busy practice in northern California and Dr. Segal has been a unbelievable asset and success to run it smoothly. You won't regret his service.
Sani Aesthetics, M.D.
Sani Aesthetics, M.D.
01:17 28 Jan 22
Medical Justice is always responsive and gets to solutions. We especially appreciate Josh P and his relentless drive to help us satisfy our customers. Their knowledge of the digital landscape brings us closer to prospective patients.
What's NEXT
What's NEXT
15:06 16 Nov 21
Jeff and his colleague Josh were both very prompt and knowledgeable in helping me resolve an issue with Instagram. Recommended to any healthcare provider needing help online with social media.
Spencer Hawkins
Spencer Hawkins
16:37 12 Sep 21
Dr. Jeffrey Segal and Medical Justice are amazing! They helped me deal with a frivolous and false board complaint to my license quickly and professionally. I was impressed with the amount of attention and copious amounts of time they committed to resolving my case. Dr. Segal also helped greatly in advising me how to protect my practice and avoid similar issues moving forward. I'm fortunate to have found their services! While I hope to not have to deal with more frivolous complaints in the future, I feel better knowing that Dr Segal and Medical Justice are there to help me navigate through what may come.
Lisa Wagner
Lisa Wagner
18:06 16 Aug 21
Dr. Jeff Segal is great at what he does! As a physician and lawyer he understands clearly the difficulty of practicing in this day and age. Having both backgrounds is his biggest strength in the medico-legal arena. He gives sound logical advice and is very responsive. I am glad that I trusted him with my issue which he solved by doing background research into the issue from other specialists. He approached the problem like a physician in a very methodical and detail -oriented way. I'm so happy to have found him! I highly recommend!!!
Nicole Basa MD
Nicole Basa MD
02:14 10 Aug 21
Medical Justice is the GO TOO for any medical provider.
Curt Litton
Curt Litton
00:35 29 Jul 21
Medical Justice exceeded my expectations on delivery of professional services. Top notch professionals, only the Best, and advisors on every medico-legal area of health care, especially Dentistry, with the Great, Vince Monticello, DDS, MBA, JD, on-board. By far a great investment. I enjoy doing business with Jeff and his Outstanding Team!
Rob Eye
Rob Eye
16:16 27 Jul 21
I’ve now been a subscriber and client of medical justice for over a year. Dr. and attorney Jeff Segal has been helpful on several occasions. He has guided me through both potential patient issues as well as recent HR pandemic concerns. He along with the Medical Justice team have given me reassuring legal advice that allows me to proceed with confidence through these difficult times. This is one of my best investments in business and personally.
Walter Tom
Walter Tom
16:06 25 Jul 21
I cannot give enough thanks for Medical Justice’s existence! It is a company that fills such a highly needed niche’ in medicine – especially aesthetic medicine. And it was founded and continues to be led by a visionary, Dr. Jeff Segal. I admire his drive and envy his intelligence. He first completes a rigorous Neurosurgery Residency. That by itself deserves tremendous kudos from anyone in the medical universe. Yet, he eventually goes back to obtain his JD. Yet what he has done in blending those two degrees into an amazing entity, Medical Justice, is nothing short of phenomenal.I was an early adopter of Medical Justice, and all that it provided for me as a surgeon and a business owner, as I am in my 12th year (this year being 2021) of being a member of Medical Justice. Throughout those twelve years, I have leaned on their team in helping maintain a fair and hard-earned online reputation when unfairly attacked. Also, Dr. Segal has always been personally involved with assisting me in resolving conflicts with difficult and unreasonable patients. He has always been only a phone call away, and prompt with his response.What I have especially appreciated is in my discussions resolving these occasional issues with patients over many years, Jeff seems to possess a third therapist certification as a compassionate, empathetic peer that understands my hurt and frustration. He has a way through the phone to put his arm around me, making me feel he sympathizes with my hurt and frustration, and together we will get through whatever issue, and the sun will rise in the morning. He then produces what he promises, as he has threaded the needle to resolution more than once for me. He feels like the big brother I never had that is there for you with honest, realistic guidance to amicable conclusions, when called upon.I just hope I retire before him. I can’t image practicing my specialty without someone like him, as well as his amazing team that he has gathered, that has and continues to have my back. - Dr. Burke Robinson, Robinson Facial Plastic Surgery
Burke Robinson
Burke Robinson
19:17 14 Jul 21
Jeff Segal, MD, JD was a tremendous help to me when battling a frivolous and retaliatory complaint to the State Medical Board. Jeff and the Medical Justice team fought immediately and tirelessly to clear this absurd complaint. It was validating, vindicating, and made me have hope again to practice medicine. It renewed my faith in the justice system and made it a pleasure to practice medicine again. Skillful. No - Masterful. There is really nothing that can replace the knowledge of an MD/JD or DO/JD to defend physicians. They were absolutely in my corner. Additionally, Medical Justice found negative reviews that I was not aware of and helped me address those concerns. Well worth every penny!
Terri Bowland
Terri Bowland
16:32 14 Jul 21
I cannot recommend a more professional or effective and caring team to help in legal matters which are delicate and require a high level of care. Dr. Segal is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and efficient attorneys that I have had that pleasure of working with. He was always available and attentive and demonstrated genuine concern and compassion towards making sure that all matters were handled with the highest level of efficacy. I highly recommend Dr. Segal and his team to any physician or practice, they will not disappoint!
Kriti Mohan
Kriti Mohan
02:15 15 Mar 21
Dr. Segal is kind, professional, and a complete genius! I am so glad to have found him! I would recommend him hands down for anyone needing legal assistance!
Samantha Britt
Samantha Britt
19:57 28 Jan 21
I am an oculofacial plastic surgeon who has been a member of Medical Justice for well over 10 years. It is a pleasure for me to be able to recommend their services to others.We have utilized the Medical Justice consent forms for operative patients throughout this time. It gives me peace of mind to know that any expert witnesses who may be called to give testimony against me are from my specialty. It also gives notice to any potential plaintiff firms that I have not only my malpractice carrier but also Medical Justice working for me should any claims arise, and puts them on notice that any frivolous claims can be in turn be litigated by me against them and the plaintiff.Does this translate to less claims or better results if claims are brought? I can only say that in 30 years of practice I have had a handful of patients request records be sent to plaintiff attorneys, and none have become suits.I can and have offered my highest recommendation for this firm and their services. Their services and client support are outstanding, and are especially beneficial when that letter for your records comes in. To have them on your side is a comfort we can all use.
Alan Brackup
Alan Brackup
15:01 07 Dec 20
The Medical Justice team have a wealth of knowledge and experience in this space. I highly recommend them to medical professionals and practices of any size. They take a highly responsive, professional, practical and no nonsense approach which has proven to be highly effective.
GenXovite Pro
GenXovite Pro
15:42 23 Nov 20
As a physician, reputation is everything. This is why I’ve trusted Emerit for years! Their unmatched ability to handle my clinic’s online reputation has helped us earn more credibility therefor increasing our patient base. They also create custom surveys for patients along with weekly reports so we can provide better treatment. These little things give us the ability to address certain areas of the practice and fix them immediately. I would highly recommend that healthcare providers to at least consider Emerit when considering an online reputation partner. I know I’m glad we did … Robert Odell, MD, PhD, Neuropathy & Pain Centers of Las Vegas
Robert Odell
Robert Odell
17:06 13 Nov 20
I recommend Medical Justice and its founder Dr. Jeff Segal with great enthusiasm. As medicine evolves the private practitioner has become increasingly more isolated. I signed up with Medical Justice so that I would have a sound legal back up for clinical business decision making. My private consultation with Dr. Siegel, neurosurgeon and attorney was insightful. His team, medical justice has already supplied us with appropriate patient forms to help me to continue practicing medicine with confidence. They have already initiated our web presence reviewing with recommendations.Dr. Segal was also readily available for a specific case consultation, and I appreciate his counsel and direction. The peace of mind and collegiality is well worth the investment in Medical Justice.
Walter Tom (Dr Walter Tom)
Walter Tom (Dr Walter Tom)
18:56 05 Nov 20
Have had the help from Medical Justice for about a year now. They are very responsive and always available to answer questions and help with any practice issues I may have. The most satisfying aspect of their assistance is in obtaining and posting patient reviews on various sites. A big help in that
Jonathan Lebowitz
Jonathan Lebowitz
00:50 03 Nov 20
In this era of digital feedback and punishment through fraudulent reviews. I wouldn't leave home without them!!
David Pincus
David Pincus
15:15 02 Nov 20
After a complete nightmare of a frivolous suit in 2002, aided and abetted by the sheer avarice of a competing surgeon right across the street (stunningly, a $2.1 million award over a pea-sized suture granuloma; when it went to the state medical board they dismissed the case as “groundless”), I was advised to join Medical Justice.What a wonderful team! Everyone there has been immediately available for any questions or concerns that have come up over the years. Just having Medical Justice’s cover letter stating that one’s a member will be enough to stop a frivolous threat dead in its tracks — and that alone makes the eminently reasonable annual fee worthwhile many times over.Knowing that Medical Justice “has my back”, and knowing that because of these fabulous people, the worst and most profoundly mind-bending experience of my life would never be allowed to happen again has given me the peace of mind to continue and even enjoy and relish my career over these many years.I can’t say enough about Dr. Jeff Segal, Mike Odden, Wendy Cates and the rest of this amazing team! Joining Medical Justice absolutely will be one of the best decisions of your career. How about 10 stars!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Holly Barbour
Holly Barbour
18:39 05 Mar 20
We have been MedicalJustice members for over nine years, and this is a service that has been priceless for us, and our facial plastic surgical practice. Ninety percent of our new patients cite the Internet as their source of referral, so for us, our internet reputation is priceless. Plus my kids see what's on the internet about our practice. MedicalJustice scours the internet for any online posts about your practice, good and bad. Even if you are able to do things exceedingly well, it is unlikely that you will be able to deliver impeccable care with exemplary bedside manner 100% of the time, have the perfect staff, and count zero competitors. And thus, unfortunately, being defamed on the Internet is an occupational hazard.I recommend MedicalJustice without reservation to any medical practice, since nearly all patients will google you before calling for an appointment. Everyone at MedicalJustrice from our advisor Shannon, to the CEO, Dr Jeff Segal, is knowledgeable, friendly, and genuinely glad to help physician practices like ours. I am grateful for all they have done to help our "mom and pop shop" thrive, and navigate unchartered waters on the internet. MedicalJustice has been outstanding for our practice in these situations :1)Reputation management. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery recommended MedicalJustice to all members in 2009, and after we got on-board, we were surprised to see more than a few negative internet reviews and comments about our practice. Frankly, I do not have the time nor desire to actively surveil the internet about our practice, but someone NEEDS to. If you don't read it, someone googling your practice will.2) Dealing with negative reviews in a safe and HiPAA compliant fashion. Some internet "specialists" recommend ignoring bad reviews, but for us, that philosophy is not cool. 12% of patients who request rhinoplasty have BDD, and as of August2018, there is no reliable method for ruling this out preoperatively. The small minority of unhappy postoperative patients may post on multiple sites, and have the longest and most painful words. MedicalJustice has helped us A LOT in this arena.3) Dealing with internet defamation.4) How to manage the disgruntled patient, and more importantly, the "difficult" scenario where you don't know what to do, and it's not malpractice.5) How to manage patients threatening to harm themselves or others.6) How to manage patients demanding a refund.7) Advice with patients threatening to sue.8) Advice with copyright infringement.9) Obtaining positive reviews from our patients with eMerit.If any physicians wish to reach out to us for any questions, it would be our pleasure. Thank you. Dr Joseph
Eric M. Joseph, M.D.
Eric M. Joseph, M.D.
19:17 09 Mar 19
Great doctor.My neck pain is gone. The doctor explained everything in detail. He was patient and respectful.
Sushil Basra
Sushil Basra
01:57 31 Jan 19
No medical professional should be without this service! I have been a long time member and will never give up my membership. I have never had such clear and concise solutions to common issues, education regarding what I need to do and how to be best prepared for common issues that arise. Whenever I have had a question, I get immediate responses that are clear, concise and of great value! Honestly - the first time you run into a difficult situation is not the time to realize you SHOULD HAVE had this service. You need to be aware, and appropriate- this service is absolutely the best resource you could want for you to meet your obligations, as well as be prepared for common issues. Not only has Dr Segal experienced both sides of many of these issues- he is brilliant, and condenses issues down - allowing you options that allow for the smoothest possible outcome for all involved. I honestly could not recommend it more!CR MD
Celia R
Celia R
18:35 12 Nov 18
A must-have for every physician. Their expertise in medical malpractice defense, and internet reputation management, is unparalleled.
Armond Levy
Armond Levy
01:27 07 Oct 18
HIPAA is complicated and always changing. That is why I recommend Medical Justice to all my clients. They are knowledgeable and trustworthy.
Jen Longtin
Jen Longtin
22:58 29 Sep 18
Impeccable service and reputation from the CEO on down. Helped me grow my practice by vastly improving the quality of my online presence. In addition, I am now insulated from the occasional anonymous and damaging online reviews. I see many additional new patients who have “googled” me and have read my numerous outstanding reviews. In addition they have helped protect me from frivolous law suits while readily providing expert legal advice. In this day and age, in my opinion, every physician needs Medical Justice standing behind them. Thank you, Medical Justice!
David K
David K
05:57 16 Sep 18
I have partnered with their organization while working in two separate companies and they have continued to provide outstanding support, superior service and communication and remain ever available. I would not practice medicine without their support.
Christina A
Christina A
15:16 13 Sep 18
We have been working with Medical Justice and Emerit for years. I would highly recommend them. They have been very responsive to all of our needs in our practice. They have guided us on how to get our patients to share their experiences online Dr. Segal has given us honest advice over the years and he has never steered us wrong. Highly, highly recommend Medical Justice!
Angela Parker
Angela Parker
20:25 12 Sep 18
Medical Justice is the real deal. They are professional, knowledgeable, timely, and their rates are beyond reasonable. Put all of that together and they have become an invaluable asset to our practice.
Jackie Foster
Jackie Foster
17:38 06 Sep 18
Our surgical practice joined Medical Justice and eMerit many years ago and it has been an invaluable resource and support. Jeff Segal, the founder, is a surgeon and an attorney who understands the challenges that physicians face today. They have been our advisors, mentors and dispensers of wisdom for any and every issue that we presented to them as well as in growing our practice. I can't imagine running our practice without them all of these years.
Bonnie Pontell
Bonnie Pontell
14:48 06 Sep 18
EXTREMELY beneficial. The ratings have done more for my Google search rankings than my website. Worth every penny. It is 2018--get on board with your online presence!
Scott Phillips
Scott Phillips
14:13 06 Sep 18
I have been a client of Medical Justice for many years. They provide a fantastic opportunity for Healthcare providers to defend against frivolous claims and to control their reviews using the eMerit platform.The service and the reviews have been extremely valuable to my practice, my social media presence and ratings as well as protection against some false claims over the years.They are always available, responsive and timely in their assistance. Dr. Segal offers a wealth of resources, insight and legal advice due to his vast experience in this venue.I highly recommend this service for anyone with a medical or dental practice.
Semira Bayati
Semira Bayati
16:27 05 Sep 18
Dental Justice has helped us manage challenging patients who are impossible to please. Let them show you that there is a better way than being frustrated.
Mitchel Friedman
Mitchel Friedman
14:53 04 Sep 18
Worked with Dr. Jeff Segal and his team for many years, I absolutely trust them when it comes to protecting our practice and team. I give my highest recommendation and I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful approach as leaders in the industry ( :
Rich Castellano
Rich Castellano
03:40 04 Sep 18
I have been a member since its' inception and can recommend the company without any reservations whatsoever. I benefited from their online review services, their involvent in preventing a frivilous malpractice threat, and their pro-active legal seminars. Thank you Dr. Segal for all your efforts.
Michael Prater
Michael Prater
21:55 02 Sep 18
It only took one reading for me to become a big fan of Leonard Berlin's.Who was Leonard Berlin?He's the radiologist who countersued a plaintiff who tried to make a fast buck by frivolously suing him. When I finally met him, I told him that I'd been following what he was doing.Berlin was the first MD I knew who fought back. When I read about Medical Justice, it was clear to me that in case I got sued frivolously, I, too, would be able to counterpunch.Raised by a pair of criminal lawyers in New Orleans (yes, really), I pretty much had a (legalistic) chip on my shoulder from childhood. Medical Justice welded it there. Instead of being a 98-pound weakling in the face of a pseudo-legal assault, it made me a Charles Atlas kinda guy.No fear after joining up. I was surprised at how reasonable the rates are.
Joseph Horton
Joseph Horton
19:00 02 Sep 18
I have used Dental Justice for the past several years and have always been happy with their service. They are professional and timely. Dr Segal has been great with his knowledge, advice, services and timely responses. I would highly recommend them to anyone in the dental or medical profession.
Shane Claiborne
Shane Claiborne
14:28 31 Aug 18
I have been using E Merit and Medical Justice’s services for the last nine years. I have found their helpful feedback to be of tremendous value to me and to my practice. I am extremely grateful to Jeff Segal and his entire team for their thoughtful and professional help. You will not be sorry if you give them a chance. I don’t know anyone who has not found them immensely helpful or who has stop using them once they have engaged their services.
Joseph Stern
Joseph Stern
01:43 30 Aug 18
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First, a brief but necessary introduction: 

Negative patient reviews are a fact of life. You can’t avoid them, and you shouldn’t ignore them. Instead, deal with them by leveraging the techniques you’ve honed as a physician – diagnose the problem, synthesize a cure, and administer treatment. At Medical Justice, we’ve helped our clients respond to thousands of negative patient reviews. Today, we are sharing the essentials ingredients with the public – addressing reviews from anonymous patients slamming doctors online.

If you are preparing a response to a negative patient review, schedule a free consultation with our Founder and CEO, Jeff Segal, MD, JD. We offer complimentary consultations specific to patient reviews. We’ll help you defend your practice’s reputation and keep you from stepping on one of the dozens of regulatory landmines that catch doctors and practice managers off-guard. Use the form below to schedule your free consultation. 

Our hope is that physicians will exit this page having learned how to respond to negative patient reviews in a way that is effective, concise, respectful of their limited time, and HIPAA compliant. We’ll achieve this end by providing readers with several guidelines and real-life examples. Additional resources are available for download within the article. 

Now that you know the agenda – let’s start by reviewing the essentials…

How to Respond to Negative Patient Reviews: The 5 Golden Rules to Follow

Responding to negative patient reviews is a time-consuming process. There are also regulatory landmines doctors must avoid. Some are obvious: Never reveal information about a patient’s treatment without their written authorization. Never identify the author of a review as your patient. Never post billing information online. Others are not as obvious.  

When writing a response to a negative patient review, you must remember…

1. A model response shows the practice is reasonable and isn’t in a debate.

2. A model response educates the public.

3. A model response addresses the concerns raised in the review.

4. A model response takes the conversation offline.

5. A model response does not address the author directly.

Write these rules on a piece of paper and share them with your staff. The employee responsible for finding and responding to negative patient reviews should commit these to memory.

The next part of this lesson involves carefully dissecting several real-life examples; examples of negative reviews and examples of model responses. Consider how the examples incorporate all five of the principles outlined above. We’ve prepared a total of four examples, organized into sets of two.  

The first set teaches physicians how to respond to negative reviews that result from medical complications. The second set provides instruction on how to respond to negative reviews that result from unexpected costs.

Disclaimer: All examples featured in this piece were collected and posted online by our online reputation management platform, eMerit. The model responses were written by our account managers in collaboration with our clients.  We should mention most of the feedback our clients collect is positive. However, we have never filtered reviews. We believe the practice of filtering patient reviews is deceptive. Professional licensing boards regulate advertising and marketing. To such boards, filtering reviews can be perceived as false and deceptive advertising. Further, Google follows this guiding principle in its new E.A.T rules. If you are unfamiliar with E.A.T., we suggest reading this article published by SterlingSky. The penalties can be harsh. You’ve been warned. 

That said – let’s dive in…

So – How Do You Respond to a Negative Patient Review that Resulted from a Medical Complication?

Most medical/surgical procedures are completed without issue. The patient is satisfied with the results and renders payment in a timely fashion. The patient moves on, and so does the doctor. Other times the patient exits the practice feeling dissatisfied either because of objective or subjective concerns. An objective concern is a complication, expected or unexpected. A subjective concern is a mismanaged expectation.  This may spark exchanges like the example depicted below…

An image depicting a response to a bad review.

Most medical/surgical procedures are completed without issue. The patient is satisfied with the results and renders payment in a timely fashion. The patient moves on, and so does the doctor. Other times the patient exits the practice feeling dissatisfied either because of objective or subjective concerns. An objective concern is a complication, expected or unexpected. A subjective concern is a mismanaged expectation.  This may spark exchanges like the example depicted below…

“While we are sympathetic toward patients who do not see their desired results, we must emphasize that Dr. [BLANK] is board certified through the American Board of Plastic Surgery for plastic and reconstructive surgery in [BLANK], [BLANK]. We hope that readers understand that unfounded allegations like in the above review serve only to start harmful rumors.”

The practice has taken a defensive stance, but it is not an emotional one. They are simply stating facts. The practice acknowledges the patient’s dissatisfaction without divulging unnecessary information. They are content to keep “their side of the story” to themselves.  

At a glance, this sounds like a terrible tactic. There are, after all, two sides to every story. Sharing your side of the story may offer the public insight into the clinical aspects of your care. Your side of the story may vindicate you – if not in the eyes of patients, perhaps in the eyes of your fellow physicians.  

The temptation to tell all is strong. Still – don’t do this. You’ll get burned. 

Imagine a situation where a patient and a doctor are arguing. For the physician to tell his side of the story, what must he do? He must reveal details about the patient’s care. This is a potential HIPAA violation. 

Therefore – a physician should never attempt to tell “his side of the story” when responding to an online review unless the patient has provided the physician with expressed written consent. Unless his audience is clairvoyant, the surgeon can’t share his thoughts without creating a public record of the patient’s care. Irritating? Absolutely. Can you still demonstrate your clinical expertise to the public? Absolutely. But there’s an optimal way to do it. We’ll explain how – let’s return to the above example.  

When the patient calls into question the physician’s qualifications, the practice refutes the claim, as we saw above. But then they take an extra step…

“Additionally, his well-honed skills have earned him much recognition, such as being voted one of ‘America’s Top Surgeons’ in 2014 and 2015 by the Consumers Research Council of America.”

Perhaps this is more information than is necessary to refute the patient, but that’s the point. Use negative reviews as an opportunity to highlight your qualifications. The response also provides the public with some general insight into the medical complication that triggered the negative review. 

“Breast implants bottoming out, though uncommon, is serious and does happen from time-to-time. It’s hard to determine one reason why bottoming out occurs, but contributing factors can include weak breast tissue, smoking, large amounts of weight loss, or even exercising without a support bra.”

This is how you demonstrate your clinical expertise to the public. Be general, and do not address the author of the negative review. The practice never refers to the review’s author as “you. In fact, the practice barely refers to the patient at all. This is by design. When drafting your responses, you must remember: The author of the review will read your response. Your goal is to resolve his/her concerns. But the author of the negative review is not the only patient who will read your reply. It may be seen by hundreds of prospective patients. So, it pays to respond to negative reviews in a genial manner

We’ll close our analysis of this example by examining the practice’s closing remarks

Any patient who has experienced their implants bottoming out is encouraged to contact our office so we can discuss a revision surgery.

The purpose of this closing statement is twofold. For one, it addresses the concerns that inspired the negative review. The patient is unhappy with her results and is seeking a remedy. The remedy the practice offers is a revision surgery. Not a free surgery, or a discounted surgery, but a surgery. Perhaps it will be free. Perhaps it will be discounted. But those are details to be worked out at the practice’s discretion. The point is the patient posted with a problem and presumably left with an answer. 

Lastly: the closing statement takes the debate offline. The patient’s instructions are clear. If she wants to schedule a revision, she must contact the office directly. Taking the debate offline puts the practice in control and reduces the likelihood the patient’s personal information will be spilled online. And if the doctor-patient relationship continues to sour, it may be best for all parties if doctor and patient parted ways. Our sibling article explains how this must be done in detail: Perfecting the Patient Dismissal Letter.

Let’s examine another example. Like the first, the exchange below depicts a patient who is not satisfied with their care. We suggest reading the response below and then reviewing the five “golden rules” described in this article’s opening paragraphs. Treat it like a test – see if you can identify how the response employs all five in order to achieve a positive end result. 

An image depicting another response to a bad review.

The response paints the practice in a rational light by explaining why treatment described in the negative review (functional capacity evaluations) is necessary. This is done without addressing the author of the review directly. Opening with a clinical truth will keep your emotions out of the response and your focus oeducating the public. When you can, share a detail about your practice’s mission statement or payment protocols. In the example above, the practice educates the audience by including the following statement in their response:

“We certainly sympathize with our patients and the pain they have due to injuries or other conditions. It is our absolute duty to lessen pain whenever we can. But we do not perform tests without necessity or precaution.”

The benefits of such a statement are obvious. It sets a certain expectation. And that expectation is, paraphrased, simply this: “We do not perform needless procedures.” 

The next priorities are addressing the concerns raised by the review and taking the debate offline. The patient is seeking a solution to their pain. The practice addresses this concern by telling the patient to contact their office directly for assistance. 

Next, the cost of treatment is a common point of contention for patients. Let’s shift our focus and discuss the best way to respond to such reviews, starting with the example below…

So – How Do You Respond to a Patient Upset By the Cost of a Procedure?

A reply to a bad review.

For the sake of brevity, we’ve condensed our analysis into five key points – we trust you are now familiar with them. 

How does the response demonstrate to the public the practice is rational?

“We are sensitive to the costs of medical care and strike to provide care that is not only effective but also affordable.”

“Billing, while by no means our primary motivation, is simply what allows us to continue to serve our patients.”

We’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: The best way to sanitize your responses is to deal strictly with facts. Speculative statements are easily misinterpreted by patients and may inspire a string of toxic replies. Both above statements are facts. The first explains the mission statement of the practice. The second acknowledges a universal truth – services cost money to render. A hard point to argue. 

How does the response educate the reader?

“Additionally, as a demonstration of our commitment to our patients we often offer payment plans to fit their individual needs.”

In our first example, the practice educated the public by sharing information about a typical surgical complication: breast implants bottoming out. This information was relevant to the patient’s critique and could be shared without revealing specific information about the patient’s care.  

In this second example, the source of the complaint is not a medical complication. The patient is complaining about the cost of the procedure. If you receive a complaint like this, educate the public by revealing how you help patients pay for their procedures. In the above example, the practice educates the public by revealing that it allows patients to pay for their care through customized payment plans.  

How does the response address the concerns raised in the review?

“Any patient who has questions about their account balance should contact our office. We’d be happy to help.”

How does the response take the conversation offline?

See above. Any invitation to contact the office directly will achieve this end.

Does the response address to the patient directly?

No. Non-specific statements such as “our patients” and “any patient” should be your go-to substitutes for pronouns such as “You”, “She”, and “He.”

Let’s examine one more example. Like the example above, it depicts a patient who is dissatisfied with the cost of their care. There is one big difference, however. The dispute below involves a third-party: the patient’s insurance carrier.

A response to a bad review.

Responding to this kind of negative review can be difficult, as it requires the practice to enter a space where neither the patient nor the physician has complete control. Attempt to manage the online narrative by presenting the patient (and the public) with facts about your practice – write what you know.

“When asked, we try to provide quotes that are as accurate as possible. Though our costs are transparent, consistent, and competitive, we cannot always speak definitively on how an insurance provider will cover a given procedure.

We understand how frustrating an unpleasant surprise like this can be and we often work with patients to find a solution that best fits their circumstances.”

When done thoughtfully, this information can be used to educate the public and position your practice as a business that is patient, rational, and sensitive to the needs of patients. This response also addresses the patient’s concerns and takes the debate offline. If the patient wants to discuss his/her circumstances with the practice, the best way to start that conversation is by getting off the internet and contacting the practice directly. The practice has not promised anything, which is wise, but it is not stonewalling, either. The outcome, favorable or unfavorable, will be determined by the private conversation that takes place between the patient and their care provider. 

And with that, we’ve come to the end of our list of examples. While we believe the above four analyses are detailed and insightful, we recognize they are not exhaustive. There are many more reasons why patients write negative reviews. If you are dealing with negative patient reviews, schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you protect your online reputation. 

Learn how Medical Justice can protect you from medico-legal mayhem… 

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Medical Justice Founder and CEO, Jeff Segal, MD, JD, provides consultations to doctors in need of guidance. 

Meet the Experts Driving Medical Justice

Our Executive Team walks with our member doctors until their medico-legal obstacles are resolved.

Jeffrey Segal, MD, JD

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Dr. Jeffrey Segal, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Medical Justice, is a board-certified neurosurgeon. Dr. Segal is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; the American College of Legal Medicine; and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society. In the process of conceiving, funding, developing, and growing Medical Justice, Dr. Segal has established himself as one of the country’s leading authorities on medical malpractice issues, counterclaims, and internet-based assaults on reputation.

Dr. Segal was a practicing neurosurgeon for approximately ten years, during which time he also played an active role as a participant on various state-sanctioned medical review panels designed to decrease the incidence of meritless medical malpractice cases.

Dr. Segal holds a M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, where he also completed a neurosurgical residency. Dr. Segal served as a Spinal Surgery Fellow at The University of South Florida Medical School. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa as well as the AOA Medical Honor Society. Dr. Segal received his B.A. from the University of Texas and graduated with a J.D. from Concord Law School with highest honors.

In 2000, he co-founded and served as CEO of DarPharma, Inc, a biotechnology company in Chapel Hill, NC, focused on the discovery and development of first-of-class pharmaceuticals for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Segal is also a partner at Byrd Adatto, a national business and health care law firm. With over 50 combined years of experience in serving doctors, dentists, and other providers, Byrd Adatto has a national pedigree to address most legal issues that arise in the business and practice of medicine.

Doctor on The Legal Road to Successfully Unmasking Who Wrote Twenty-Three One Star Reviews

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

We have written extensively on how challenging it is to sue a patient for defamation based on a negative online review. Such a lawsuit will take time, be expensive, and deliver an uncertain outcome. And if it is just a single review, the effort will generally exceed the benefit. Further, it is not even clear that a one-star review, without more, is even considered defamatory.  

Defamation is a false fact, communicated to a third party which damages one’s reputation.  

A false fact is not an opinion. Opinion is a defense against an allegation of defamation.  

Onward to a recent appellate case in Colorado.  

Plaintiff Dr. Susan Schroeder and Perfect Skin Dermatology, PC sued “John Doe” alleging defamation and trade libel/product disparagement. 

The doctor alleged that in September 2019, she noticed a string of negative reviews on Vitals.com. More than 30 reviews from 2015 to 2018 consisted of similar negative reviews by a “self-verified patient of Dr. Susan S. Schroeder.” Some were just one-star ratings devoid of content. Others  

“purported to comment negatively on the ease of making an appointment; the friendliness of the staff; the accuracy of their diagnosis; and/or Dr. Schroeder’s promptness, bedside manner, time spent with the patient, and appropriate follow-up.” 

Dr. Schroeder and her practice filed a lawsuit against defendant “John Doe” whom plaintiffs alleged was “an individual, or a group of individuals acting in concert, whose identity, capacity, and residence is unknown to Plaintiffs.” 

Plaintiffs further alleged that Doe had “concealed [his] true identity and capacity while masquerading as dozens of patients purporting to express widespread dissatisfaction with the services and care provided by Plaintiffs”; that “the [r]eviews are false and defamatory, do not represent actual customer experiences, complaints, or opinions, and were published with the intent of harassing Plaintiffs and causing injury to their economic interests and otherwise good standing in the community and profession”; and that the reviews had caused plaintiffs to suffer reputational harm, loss of revenue, and other injuries. Based on these allegations, plaintiffs asserted claims for defamation and trade libel/product disparagement.” 

And away we go.  

Dr. Schroeder and her practice (the Plaintiffs) served subpoenas on Vitals.com to identify IP addresses.  

Vitals.com supplied records indicating that twenty-three of the reviews had been uploaded from the same three Comcast IP addresses: ten reviews in 2016 and 2018 from a single IP address; six in 2017 from another IP address within the same limited “net range”; and seven in 2015 and early 2016 from a third IP address. 

So, these were probably not 23 patients. Perhaps they represented one patient. Maybe three patients. Most likely one. 

Then, Plaintiffs served a subpoena on Comcast to get the actual identity of those who posted the reviews. In other words, Comcast was asked which account(s) was/were assigned those specific IP addresses on the identified dates/times when reviews were posted. 

Comcast alerted “John Doe” who filed a motion to quash the subpoena. Meaning, John Doe fought the subpoena. The trial court granted the motion. John Doe temporarily won and remained anonymous.  

The Plaintiffs appealed.  

One of the arguments John Doe asserted to avoid unmasking was this. The statements (reviews) were just opinions and they were not false statement of fact.  

The court responded: 

“Statements of pure opinion are constitutionally protected” and, thus, cannot support a libel or defamation claim. But “[t]o be entitled to full constitutional protection, the statement must not contain a provably false factual connotation or, if it does, it must not be such that it could reasonably be interpreted as stating actual facts.”  In determining whether a statement is one of pure opinion — and thus constitutionally protected — we consider (1) whether the statement is sufficiently factual to be susceptible of being proved true or false and (2) whether reasonable people would conclude that the assertion is one of fact. In considering the second question, we look to the phrasing, the context, and the circumstances surrounding the publication of the statement.” 

The court concluded that whether the reviews were even written by a patient could be demonstrably proven as true or false. If a non-patient posted as a patient, that would be false. Of course. 

Further, it was possible the reviews, in aggregate, could be proven demonstrably false.   

“And if the reviews purport to have been submitted by different patients (a question we needn’t and don’t resolve at this stage of the case) but in fact they were not, then they may not be protected.” 

So, opinions posted by a non-patient, posing as a patient, would not be protected.  

Also, opinions posted by one patient, posing as many patients, would not be protected. 

In other words, it depends.  

John Doe defended again, arguing that one-star ratings, without words, are constitutionally-protected expressions of opinion. The court responded: 

“But a series of dozens of reviews, if each purports to have been submitted by a different patient, may communicate an objective, potentially false fact: that the speakers are multiple separate patients who each had a negative patient experience with the provider.” 

Throwing everything including the kitchen sink into the defense, John Doe ALSO argued that Plaintiff was precluded from collecting on libel, because she was “libel-proof.”  

What’s that?  

It’s a widely criticized doctrine which asserts that a plaintiff’s reputation was so damaged prior to the recent publications, that there could not be any incremental damage to reputation based on new publications. It generally applies in cases with plaintiffs who have prior criminal convictions.  

The judges rejected this defense. 

Doe points to twenty-seven one-star reviews of plaintiffs on the Vitals.com site from 2009 through 2014, predating the reviews at issue in this case. But those negative reviews don’t conclusively establish that plaintiffs’ reputations were so irreparably damaged by prior publications that any further negative comments could not have damaged them any further. See Liberty Lobby, 746 F.2d at 1568; see also Guccione v. Hustler Mag., Inc., 800 F.2d 298, 303 (2d Cir. 1986) (“The libel-proof plaintiff doctrine is to be applied with caution, since few plaintiffs will have so bad a reputation that they are not entitled to obtain redress for defamatory statements, even if their damages cannot be quantified and they receive only nominal damages.)” 

And it’s possible John Doe was actually responsible for these earlier negative reviews. 

Colorado appellate court has spoken. Now the case goes back to lower court. Comcast will likely have to reveal John Doe(s) identity. Unless it gets appealed again. 

What are the take home messages? 

  • A one-star review by itself, if purported to be by a patient, may be considered defamatory if ultimately proven to be written by a non-patient.  
  • Multiple one-star reviews, purportedly written by many patients, may be considered defamatory if ultimately proven to be written by one patient. 
  • Even if a doctor has a prior rotten reputation, it is possible for that bad reputation to be made even worse with new defamatory reviews. 

What do you think?

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

Jeffrey Segal, MD, JD

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Dr. Jeffrey Segal, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Medical Justice, is a board-certified neurosurgeon. Dr. Segal is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; the American College of Legal Medicine; and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society. In the process of conceiving, funding, developing, and growing Medical Justice, Dr. Segal has established himself as one of the country’s leading authorities on medical malpractice issues, counterclaims, and internet-based assaults on reputation.

Dr. Segal was a practicing neurosurgeon for approximately ten years, during which time he also played an active role as a participant on various state-sanctioned medical review panels designed to decrease the incidence of meritless medical malpractice cases.

Dr. Segal holds a M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, where he also completed a neurosurgical residency. Dr. Segal served as a Spinal Surgery Fellow at The University of South Florida Medical School. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa as well as the AOA Medical Honor Society. Dr. Segal received his B.A. from the University of Texas and graduated with a J.D. from Concord Law School with highest honors.

In 2000, he co-founded and served as CEO of DarPharma, Inc, a biotechnology company in Chapel Hill, NC, focused on the discovery and development of first-of-class pharmaceuticals for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Segal is also a partner at Byrd Adatto, a national business and health care law firm. Byrd Adatto was selected as a Best Law Firm in the 2021 edition of the “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News – Best Lawyers. With over 50 combined years of experience in serving doctors, dentists, and other providers, Byrd Adatto has a national pedigree to address most legal issues that arise in the business and practice of medicine.

We Told You So. FTC Fines Business $4.2M for Review Gating.

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

 

In 2019, we alerted members to avoid the practice of “review gating.”

What’s that, you reasonably ask?

Review-gating is the process of filtering candidates before asking them to leave you a review.  Normally this is done by sending many or all customers an email or text message template and first asking them if they had a positive or negative experience.

If they had a positive experience, they are asked to leave a review on a review site, such as Google.

But if they had a negative experience, they are prompted to leave private feedback and are never sent the option to leave a review publicly. Negative reviews are buried.

Business owners have loved this feature because they are terrified of negative reviews and naturally prefer the opportunity to have only 5-star reviews. Of course.

In April 2018 Google clarified its guidelines stating that review gating is not permitted.

“Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”

In 2019, we also believed that use of review gating by doctors could create issues with a Board of Medicine or Dentistry. The practice of medicine and dentistry are heavily regulated by these Boards. Marketing and advertising are allowed as long as the messages are not false or deceptive. Trapping negative responses from patients to keep them their reviews from posting on a third-party review sites, tilting the table in favor of positive reviews, arguably looks like false or deceptive marketing. A patient relying on third party sites, with no knowledge of filtering, will reasonably conclude a practice delivers stellar performance when, in fact, that may not be the case. That could lead to an allegation of unprofessional behavior, putting one’s license at risk.

There are scores of review-capturing processes that enable review gating. They tout review gating as a desirable feature. Such platforms are often ignorant of how regulated the healthcare space is.

Now, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has spoken.

The FTC announced that online fast-fashion retailer, Fashion Nova had agreed to pay a $4.2 million fine for selectively not publishing negative product reviews. Fashion Nova also agreed it will no longer suppress customer reviews.

The FTC complaint alleged that Fashion Nova had “misrepresented that the product reviews on its website reflected the views of all purchasers who submitted reviews, when in fact it suppressed reviews with ratings lower than four stars out of five. The case is the FTC’s first involving a company’s efforts to conceal negative customer reviews.”

The agency also notified 10 review platforms that they can no longer “avoid collection or publication of negative reviews.” [BTW, the list of these platforms was identified by a request filed under Freedom of Information Act.]

It is the first case focused solely on reviews with such a significant fine, and puts the world on notice that the FTC is finally putting a stake in the ground around abusive review practices. The vote was unanimous and non-partisan (4 – 0) in favor of issuing the complaint and accepting the consent agreement with Fashion Nova.

As Near Media reported, review gating is unethical and now clearly illegal.

The good news is that practices that deliver excellent service and great results need not worry excessively about an occasional negative review. An occasional negative review, amid a sea of positive reviews, makes the positive reviews look authentic and real. The public understands you cannot make everyone happy. The public is more interested in how you solve problems, rather than being perfect. You get points for solving problems.

The FTC is sending a warning shot across the bow. Expect anyone with an ax to grind to think about notifying the FTC. This list includes disgruntled patients whose voices are silenced, unhappy ex-employees, and jilted ex-spouses/lovers. And, yes, competitors. Most practices cannot handle a $4.2M fine, much less the negative publicity surrounding such action.

Finally, don’t be surprised in state Attorney Generals pick up the slack if the FTC limits its own responses. From NY Attorney General Website:

Carmel is a well-known car service based in New York City.  The investigation into Carmel found that between May 5, 2016 and July 27, 2016, the company sent 161,000 email messages to Carmel customers requesting feedback regarding their recent ride with Carmel.  Customers were asked to evaluate Carmel services by clicking “Perfect” or “Good,” listed with an opportunity for ten dollars ($10) discount off the next ride, or “Bad,” which did not offer any discount.  Upon clicking the “Perfect” and “Good” links, the customer was directed to a consumer-review website such as Yelp.com and provided a $10 discount off their next ride upon confirmation of the review. If a customer clicked on the “Bad” button, he or she was directed to a web portal at Carmel with the opportunity to leave feedback. However, in this case, they were not directed or otherwise told to post the review on a consumer-review website and were not offered a discount or any other form of compensation.

Negative reviews were buried and never saw the light of day. In 2016, Carmel paid $75k fine as per its agreement with the NY Attorney General.

What are the tea leaves saying?

A fine in 2016 for review gating plus “paying” for positive reviews was $75k. A fine in 2022 solely for review gating was $4.2M.

If you are using a platform that review gates, NOW is the time to get your house in order. We built our review capture system with compliance in mind. Schedule a free consultation to identify whether your system may be non-compliant.

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

 

Jeffrey Segal, MD, JD

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Dr. Jeffrey Segal, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Medical Justice, is a board-certified neurosurgeon. Dr. Segal is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; the American College of Legal Medicine; and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society. In the process of conceiving, funding, developing, and growing Medical Justice, Dr. Segal has established himself as one of the country’s leading authorities on medical malpractice issues, counterclaims, and internet-based assaults on reputation.

Dr. Segal was a practicing neurosurgeon for approximately ten years, during which time he also played an active role as a participant on various state-sanctioned medical review panels designed to decrease the incidence of meritless medical malpractice cases.

Dr. Segal holds a M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, where he also completed a neurosurgical residency. Dr. Segal served as a Spinal Surgery Fellow at The University of South Florida Medical School. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa as well as the AOA Medical Honor Society. Dr. Segal received his B.A. from the University of Texas and graduated with a J.D. from Concord Law School with highest honors.

In 2000, he co-founded and served as CEO of DarPharma, Inc, a biotechnology company in Chapel Hill, NC, focused on the discovery and development of first-of-class pharmaceuticals for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Segal is also a partner at Byrd Adatto, a national business and health care law firm. Byrd Adatto was selected as a Best Law Firm in the 2021 edition of the “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News – Best Lawyers. With over 50 combined years of experience in serving doctors, dentists, and other providers, Byrd Adatto has a national pedigree to address most legal issues that arise in the business and practice of medicine.

Yelp Now Allows Businesses to Highlight Their Vaccine Policies. Review Bombing Follows.

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

 

Review bombing of a business is defined as influx of negative online reviews from non-customers due to public attention.

This August, Yelp added two new features businesses can list on their profiles. A business can publicize that its staff is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It can also indicate if it requires customers to provide proof of vaccination to receive services. Businesses can highlight these vaccine “badges.” Those searching on Yelp can filter their queries using these parameters.

As of August 23, 26k businesses listed at least one of these two vaccine “badges” on their profiles.

Some of these businesses have been carpet-bombed with negative reviews, often from non-customers.

The company said it would proactively monitor the pages of businesses that chose to disclose their vaccine policies, read new reviews before they are published and remove those that violate its terms of service.…So far, 45 reviews have been taken down through proactive moderation.

The company began using proactive moderation to manage the rollout of new badges last summer, when Yelp added one to identify Black-owned businesses as part of the company’s response to the killing of George Floyd. Since then, the company has pre-emptively monitored the pages of any business using its identity-based attributes. 

Yelp didn’t use the strategy when it created filters to let businesses share their masking policies earlier in the coronavirus pandemic. Roseann Rostoker, owner of Red Gravy, a restaurant in New Orleans, said she received one-star reviews on Yelp from people upset about her mask policy.

Yelp created special Covid-19 content guidelines in March 2020 and has “removed more than 13,000 reviews for violating these guidelines.”

Yelp apparently monitors changes in traffic to a page. If some public controversy leads to more page views and more negative reviews, it temporarily freezes content on that page. So, no new negative reviews can be left. But no new positive reviews can be posted either.

The jury is still out whether adding these vaccine badges will be a financial net positive or negative for a business, or whether the results will vary depending on the type of business and what part of the country the business is based.

Still, one business summed up his internal accounting opinion of Yelp.

Mr. Frangiadis, executive chef and managing partner of Spork in Pittsburgh, started requiring proof of vaccination for guests at his restaurant. He has not updated his company Yelp profile to reflect that update. He opined Yelp’s proactive moderation policy is welcome, but he still doesn’t like the platform because it doesn’t limit reviews to people who have dined at Spork and it can be hard to reach people at Yelp. “We would be perfectly comfortable without having a Yelp page at all,” he said. 

He’s probably not alone.

What do you think?

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation.

Review Widget

Learn how Medical Justice can protect you from medico-legal mayhem… 

Take Advantage of Our Review Monitoring Service

We provide qualified applicants with free review monitoring for 6 week. Reports delivered bi-weekly.

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Request a Consultation with Our Founder

Medical Justice Founder and CEO, Jeff Segal, MD, JD, provides consultations to doctors in need of guidance. 

Meet the Experts Driving Medical Justice

Our Executive Team walks with our member doctors until their medico-legal obstacles are resolved.

Jeffrey Segal, MD, JD

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Dr. Jeffrey Segal, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Medical Justice, is a board-certified neurosurgeon. Dr. Segal is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; the American College of Legal Medicine; and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society. In the process of conceiving, funding, developing, and growing Medical Justice, Dr. Segal has established himself as one of the country’s leading authorities on medical malpractice issues, counterclaims, and internet-based assaults on reputation.

Dr. Segal was a practicing neurosurgeon for approximately ten years, during which time he also played an active role as a participant on various state-sanctioned medical review panels designed to decrease the incidence of meritless medical malpractice cases.

Dr. Segal holds a M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, where he also completed a neurosurgical residency. Dr. Segal served as a Spinal Surgery Fellow at The University of South Florida Medical School. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa as well as the AOA Medical Honor Society. Dr. Segal received his B.A. from the University of Texas and graduated with a J.D. from Concord Law School with highest honors.

In 2000, he co-founded and served as CEO of DarPharma, Inc, a biotechnology company in Chapel Hill, NC, focused on the discovery and development of first-of-class pharmaceuticals for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Segal is also a partner at Byrd Adatto, a national business and health care law firm. Byrd Adatto was selected as a Best Law Firm in the 2021 edition of the “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News – Best Lawyers. With over 50 combined years of experience in serving doctors, dentists, and other providers, Byrd Adatto has a national pedigree to address most legal issues that arise in the business and practice of medicine.

The Surgeon Who Appeared in Traffic Court by Zoom During Surgery. Hear the Real Story. From HIM.

Share this article by copying this link: https://medicaljustice.com/dr-scott-green-surgeon-traffic-court-real-story/

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Dr. Scott Green is a talented plastic surgeon trapped in a 21st-century media storm. Dr. Green received a traffic ticket. Because of COVID restrictions, he appeared in traffic court via Zoom after successfully completing the salient portion of his patient’s surgery. His fellow was closing. A faulty Zoom connection created a false narrative that Dr. Green was careless and cavalier. This judgment is both false and unfair.

How do we know? We spoke to Dr. Green ourselves. Every doctor needs to hear his side of the story. Why? What happened to him could happen to any of us. Listen to his story.

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

We challenge you to supply us with a medico-legal obstacle we haven’t seen before. Know you are in good hands. Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

Meet Your Host

Jeff Segal, MD, JD

Founder & CEO, Medical Justice
Dr. Jeffrey Segal is a board-certified neurosurgeon. In the process of conceiving, funding, developing, and growing Medical Justice, Dr. Segal has established himself as one of the country’s leading authorities on medical malpractice issues, counterclaims, and internet-based assaults on reputation.

Take Advantage of Our Review Monitoring Service

We provide qualified applicants with free review monitoring for 6 week. Reports delivered bi-weekly.

w

Request a Consultation with Our Founder

Medical Justice Founder and CEO, Jeff Segal, MD, JD, provides consultations to doctors in need of guidance. 

Meet the Experts Driving Medical Justice

Our Executive Team walks with our member doctors until their medico-legal obstacles are resolved.