- Health professionals are adapting to a harsh reality in which consumers rate them on sites like Yelp, Vitals, and RateMDs much as they do restaurants, hotels, and spas. The vast majority of reviews are positive. But in trying to respond to negative ones, some providers appear to be violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal patient privacy law known as HIPAA. The law forbids them from disclosing any patient health information without permission.
- One Washington state dentist turned the tables on a patient who blamed him for the loss of a molar: “Due to your clenching and grinding habit, this is not the first molar tooth you have lost due to a fractured root,” he wrote. “This tooth is no different.”
In California, a chiropractor pushed back against a mother’s claims that he misdiagnosed her daughter with scoliosis. “You brought your daughter in for the exam in early March 2014,” he wrote. “The exam identified one or more of the signs I mentioned above for scoliosis. I absolutely recommended an x-ray to determine if this condition existed; this x-ray was at no additional cost to you.”
Seems like a tough issue. I'm honestly wary of the idea of allowing reviews of medical practices on places like Yelp. I understand that these sorts of websites can expose poor practices, but I expect that these reviews may ultimately do more harm than good, and there doesn't seem to be any way for physicians to defend themselves from negative reviews without violating HIPAA.