As a practice owner, chances are you’ve likely seen your share of negative reviews from disgruntled patients on multiple websites who may have been unhappy with the amount of care they received from their specific physician. Since potential patients have the power to check out these types of reviews when the time comes for them to select a physician of their own, this makes it extremely important for doctors to be more than aware of their own online reputation that way they can guard against comments that are known to be unfair in nature.
This begs the question of whether the doctor should contact the website or the patient in the event that something like this should happen to them. Even worse, there’s also the additional question of whether or not they should consider a lawsuit alleging defamation of character.
Here are four useful tips to make note of when it comes to addressing negative online reviews.
Contact the Review Company
If you do not personally know the individual who made the negative comment, take the time to contact the review company. Federal law mandates that websites are generally immune from any liability for any decisions to either leave or remove content that individuals post. This means that the website can agree to remove content without having to worry about any fear of legal repercussions, which is great for any physician who may be seeking to have any damaging statements about them taken down. Keep in mind, however, that when you reach out to the website, you will need to ensure that you understand all of their terms and services, as this will help you more with being able to prepare a persuasive and credible explanation as to why the content in question should be removed.
Contact the Reviewer
On the other hand, if you do personally know the individual who made the negative comment, you can take the step of confronting them directly. Generally, you will want to take a more friendly route in order to find a way to resolve the underlying complaint, as well as ask that the damaging content be removed from the website. On the other hand, should you decide to adopt a more aggressive approach, you could request that your attorney send a cease and desist letter. This is a method that generally does the trick and often prevents both parties from having to end up going to court.
Is it a troll/competition?
It’s also equally as important to take the time to conduct your own investigation into whether the individual who posted the negative content can actually be identified. This is something that is absolutely crucial in terms of determining all of the underlying facts behind the content itself. In the event that you know who the individual is, you will then be able to decide whether or not you want to contact them directly.
File a Lawsuit
Another option, which is typically reserved for the absolute last resort, would be to file a lawsuit against the offending individual alleging defamation of character. Keep in mind, however, that no physician ever wants to be known as one who sues a patient in connection with them simply leaving a bad review; however, if the negative content about the physician in question is proven to be defamatory in nature, then the website it was posted on could end up getting served with a court order stating that it must be removed.
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