I must confess. I’m flattered. First I learn that a professor of Internet law at an Ivy League School referenced the Medical Justice agreements as a final exam question. I am a regular reader – and fan – of Eric Goldman’s cyber-law blog. Earlier this week, lo and behold, Professor Goldman featured Medical Justice on a site he’s created about us.

If you believe every argument Professor Goldman makes, you’d believe that all doctor review sites are wonderful, accurate and completely truthful. He won’t yield an inch in acknowledging that there might be a small problem with at least 1 of the more than 60 sites dotting the cyber-landscape. C’mon. Toss us a bone.

Let’s deal with facts. Not all rating sites are the same. Some, such as Real Self, are exemplary. They are balanced, fair, and don’t have an axe to grind. They serve the physician and patient community. How many times have they been asked to remove a negative post by enforcing a copyright agreement? Goose egg. Have there been any negative comments on Real Self? Of course. But, if a site is fair, physicians will respect it and behave responsibly. That’s an empirical observation. The parade of horribles just has not come to pass.

Not all sites rise to the level of truthfulness. Here’s an example.

One of our dentist members received an email from thesitewhichshallnotbenamed (read blog post) bringing a post on that site to his attention. How the site got the doctor’s email address is anyone’s guess.

The details: The poster alleged the dentist “sexually assaulted” her while in the dentist’s chair. No police report was filed. Nor was any complaint filed with the Dental Board. Hmmm.

And petty crime apparently finds a home in every doctor’s office. The site details other incidents like “Dr. XXX stole from my purse when I went to the toilet.”

On their face, these complaints may seem silly. But, human nature being what it is, not all patients will understand just how ridiculous they are. Some subset of the population will believe them just because the Web said so.

Eventually, some sites will reach critical mass – being perceived as reliable and credible. Sites such as thesitewhichshallnotbenamed will still exist – but only as entertainment – like the National Enquirer or Jerry Springer (no disrespect intended, Jerry).

Finally I can’t let one point pass. Professor Goldman suggests that any doctor who puts an agreement in front of a patient may be unethical – putting his financial interests ahead of a patient’s interest. That’s priceless. A lawyer passing judgment on doctors about financial interests. How often has a negligently injured patient heard “Sorry, I know you’ve been injured. But it just cost too much to take your case.” I could go on. But, the defense rests.

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