By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some doctors are taking extremely drastic measures to protect their online reputations.
Online review sites like healthgrades.com can make or break a doctor’s practice. So, some doctors are using a new type of doctor-patient contract to stop negative comments.
“It’s an extremely broad and crude attempt to scare the patient into not commenting,” says health law expert Barry Furrow (right), a professor at Drexel University’s law school.
He says some doctors will slip a patient “gag” contract in with intake forms. If signed, the contract says the patient cannot comment online about the doctor’s services.
But Furrow says the agreements are illegal.
“It violates your privacy rights and your basic right to comment, which is all a part of patient shopping under the Affordable Care Act,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
He says that patients who violate a gag agreement could get a nasty letter from their doctor.
“You’re not going to get dragged into court. They don’t really have any remedies, as far as I can tell, except bluster. They’re going to send you a threatening letter — and that scares most people.”
But for the doctor, he adds, it could backfire.
“Are you going to go back to a doctor when you’ve been smacked like that? Probably not.”
Furrow has this advice for patients:
“If you see one of these, you shouldn’t sign it and you should go to doctorreviews.com and see what’s going on.”