Consultation For Your Reputation

How patient defamation can harm medical professionals

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Business Reputation |

Medical professionals often do not think of themselves as service providers who must market to consumers. There is an assumption that there is a built-in client base because people always need healthcare support. However, older healthcare professionals in particular may fail to recognize how the internet has changed consumer behavior. People now consult the internet when choosing a doctor or deciding if they need care at all.

Angry or frustrated patients could very well post videos or reviews online that do major damage to a professional’s reputation or a private medical practice. All too often, what patients allege online crosses the line between a negative review and clear defamation.

When does a patient complaint become defamation?

The accuracy of a statement is what differentiates a valid grievance from defamation. When a patient exaggerates the situation to make themselves look as good as possible and a physician look as bad as possible, their claims online could meet the legal standard for defamation.

For example, if a patient claims that a doctor ignored their symptoms and sent them away without treatment or a diagnosis, that might deter others from going to that doctor in a moment of crisis. If the patient failed to mention that they have previously sought out care from multiple other doctors in the last few days with the intention of requesting a specific medication, they can turn a clear case of doctor shopping into something that looks like malpractice.

Doctors and their support workers may have a hard time responding to patient complaints online. Any attempts to resolve the issue might worsen the scenario by leading to claims that they violated medical privacy laws. Healthcare professionals therefore need to be both proactive and cautious when handling acts of digital defamation.

Oftentimes, the proactive monitoring of a physician’s online reputation is crucial to the prevention of flagrant defamation online. Responding rapidly to negative reviews and viral videos can lead to a takedown of the original content before it spreads too far. In some cases, physicians may even need to consider taking legal action if the accusations against them are particularly egregious and have had a negative impact on their professional reputation.

Engaging in assertive online reputation management and monitoring for signs of defamation by dissatisfied patients may prove to be crucial for the success of a physician or private medical practice. Healthcare professionals who respond assertively to online content can minimize the damage caused by the exaggeration or fabrications of others.