On March 31, 2013, The Boston Globe printed a front-page article entitled "Doctors Firing Back at Patients' Online Critiques: Lawsuits Target Harsh Web Posts." David H. Rich, a partner with Todd & Weld LLP, is quoted extensively throughout the article.
The article stated: "Doctors feel they are at a disadvantage in responding to negative reviews [posted by patients] because medical privacy laws forbid them from discussing a patient's care in public-a limitation that hotels, restaurants, and other often-rated businesses and professionals don't face."
The article quotes the President of the Massachusetts Medical Society who says, "For surgeons, their reputation is very important. We don't want to discourage them from taking on really tough cases because they don't want to ruin their ratings."
Mr. Rich commented upon the case in which his client, a doctor, had been "completely responsive and sympathetic" to her patient; yet, nonetheless, years after the fact, the patient's family member took to the internet to publish false, misleading and inaccurate comments about the doctor. In this regard, the blog, which remained available online for nearly three years, resulted in significant harm to the doctor. As Mr. Rich pointed out, negative blog comments can dissuade potential patients from seeking a doctor out as a surgeon: "If you are thinking of hiring someone or working with someone, the first thing you do is Google [the] name."
The article confirmed that upon the filing of the lawsuit, the patient's family member removed the blog posting.
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