The availability of review sites on the internet makes it easy for patients to post reviews of their doctors for the public to see. Sometimes these reviews can be negative and even damaging to the reputation of a California health care professional. If you think an online review is unfair, you want to take the proper steps to combat it and not react in a way that could endanger your practice.

According to the American Medical Association, responding to bad reviews immediately can be counterproductive. Tempers can run hot when you first read a negative review, and you may type out a response that is angrier than you intend, which will not improve people’s perceptions of you. It is better to take time to calm yourself and consider how you would respond thoughtfully.

Health care professionals should also be careful not to reveal information about patients. Even though some patients post information about themselves in their reviews, doctors and medical providers still cannot disclose patient information without receiving consent from the patients themselves. A physician who does reveal patient information will be violating HIPAA provisions concerning patient confidentiality.

This does not mean health care professionals have no recourse in combating bad reviews. You have the option of letting your patients know that they can review and rate you online. In many cases, people do leave positive reviews, and if more patients write positive reviews, it can minimize the impact of the negative reviews. If there are many good reviews, the bad ones will seem abnormal by comparison.

Sometimes a physician can follow up with a patient who leaves a negative review. The doctor could speak with the patient over the phone on in an in-person meeting in the doctor’s office. These conversations allow doctors to address the concerns of the patient. These discussions may result in the patient removing the negative review or amending it to commend the doctor for responding to the patient’s concerns.

There will be times when negative reviews cannot be handled so easily, and some bad reviews can put your profession in jeopardy. If this is the case, an experienced attorney can assist you in combating these threats to your reputation and profession. This article is intended only for educational benefit and not as legal counsel for your situation.