For whatever reason, doctors and dentists are targets of online defamation by patients and, sometimes, competing doctors and physicians. As an internet law-defamation attorney, I handle a large number of doctor and dentist defamation cases. I have always believed that the reason doctors, dentists and physicians are the target of online liable and slander is because of the special relationship they have with their patients. A patient who has had a bad medical outcome sometimes feels that someone has to be responsible. They don’t accept that not every outcome is going to be a good medical result. The desire to blame someone often falls on the doctor, dentist or physician.
Some trends that we are starting to see in doctor defamation cases are as follows:
- Facebook defamation against professionals continues to increase in frequency. As Facebook becomes more popular, it is also becoming a more popular place to post false and slanderous statements about professionals such as doctors, dentists and physicians. The good news is that often times it is easy to identify who is participating in the Facebook discussions and whether they come through an individual’s post or a group discussion. However, we have seen an increase in the number of instances where competitors or patients register the physician’s name as a Facebook page and start an online attack on that thread. Getting Facebook to remove the page because of the false identification is challenging and, in some instances, impossible. You need to go directly after the person who created the page and posted the information.
- We are seeing an increase in competing doctors posting false reviews against other doctors on HealthGrades.com, Yelp.com, Google Places and other physician review sites. They think that they can create a false account and post false reviews without getting caught. In almost every instance, a good internet lawyer can identify the false account and the person behind it.
- Hacking of accounts has become a popular way to perpetrate online defamation, liable and slander. By taking over an email account, Facebook page, Twitter account or other online tool, the person who is attacking the physician, doctor or dentist is able to present themselves as the doctor and cause a tremendous amount of reputation harm and confusion.
Internet Defamation Resources for those in the medical field:
- Be prepared to defend your medical practice reputation against negative online statements made by patients or other individuals.
- Have set strategies in how to respond towards comments posted on Yelp, RateMDs or other medical review sites.
- It is important to know and understand when legal recourse may be an option to consider.
Defamation perpetrated on the internet is a growing problem. Feel free to contact one of our internet defamation lawyers for more information on how to protect yourself from a reputation attack on the internet.
This is a very good summary, thank you.
I would like to add that if it is a case of Internet-based defamation, is very important that the victim or the victim's attorneys take early steps to preserve what would otherwise be perishable evidence in the form of log files and connection records for the IP addresses associated with the defamatory publications. This is important because there are no rules governing the length of time an Internet service provider must keep these log files. For example, if an anonymous defamatory article is published via mobile phone, it is possible to the log files will be systematically deleted in as little as seven days by the carrier.
I have worked on several cases that have run aground because important evidence perished due to this problem.
Posted by: Michael Roberts | May 18, 2014 at 12:39 AM