A recent AP article discusses the controversy over patients rating doctors. This issue will not go away. The author pits the owner of RateMDs with the doctor who started Medical Justice (who makes patients sign waivers not to post online comments about doctors). The latter group can get the site to remove offending opinions if the patient author is known but RateMDs uses the cloud of anonymity for their postings. In other words, it really doesn't matter. As the old adage goes, "opinions are like a*&holes, everyone has got one". The winner in this article is John Swapceinski, co-founder of RateMDs.com, who gets to have a national forum for a day or two. Heck, I am mentioning him here as well. Millions of people will now get to go to his site and many an angry patient will get a chance to "give it back" to his or her doctor. Then we will all forget about John and his site again. No one really reads these things, anyway.
If the sites really wanted to be fair then personal comments about physicians would be removed. These sites would just have ten or so rating scales that a patient can only click once and then the overall average is given. Kind of like they do for online articles or comments to those articles. When you think about it, why should anyone (other than me) be able to put online a vicious diatribe about someone else? For example, if I make 99% of my patients happy and see 100 patients a week then one patient a week could rip me a new one online. That could lead to 50 really bad comments a year (I do need my vacations) which would make me look really bad. If a drug was 99% effective, though, then it would earth-shattering. So the problem lies in the fact that more people with negative experiences tend to want to share them with others. This leads to a disproportionate and skewed rating. I say if patients are allowed personal attacks on their doctors then the doctor should be allowed to say some personal things about that individual patient. That wouldn't solve anything but it would be a blast to read. And it's all about entertainment, isn't it?