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Gagging patients from online criticism

A 9-year outfit called Medical Justice is pushing a gag order doctors can make patients sign which keeps them from criticizing the docs online.
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Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

As part of a broader service aimed at protecting doctors from malpractice judgements, a 9-year outfit called Medical Justice is pushing a gag order doctors can make patients sign which keeps them from criticizing the docs online.

This has been going on for years, but an AP story has suddenly made it controversial.

Jeffrey Segal (right), the Greensboro, NC entrepreneur behind the site, insisted to reporters he doesn't hate sites like Angie's List and RateMDs, but says they're not regulated and can do doctors great harm.

Advocates of getting doctors online are aghast. MyDocHub calls it an attack on First Amendment rights, while ePatients.Net calls it an "almost comical attempt to hold back the tide."calls the whole thing repulsive.

CORRECTION: It was RateMDs that called it repulsive, and ePatients was quoting that in the headline.

Consumer advocates are also grumbling.

On its blog Medical Justice says it is looking to sites "such as" Drscore.com to create a "scientifically validated survey methodology" it can support. It claims to endorse the idea of getting doctors online.

DrScore offers a list of doctors, and asks visitors to take a survey on theirs, using numbers from 0-10 and a variety of metrics. But it does not yet have a statistically-significant sample on many physicians.

By contrast sites like RateMDs allow anonymous comments that can turn one unhappy visit into an online jihad. (Here's an example.)

Segal's stance is aggressive, and my guess is that the agreement he is pushing would be laughed out of court, but he's not alone in feeling a threat from Web 2.0 sites.

The Center for Peer Review Justice is organizing physicians to "spotlight sham medical peer review" and keep online ranters from destroying doctors' reputations.

So is Dr. Segal right?

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