Legal issues in reviewing doctors online...
August 19, 2005 10:11 PM   Subscribe

A question about the legal issues involved in setting up a site similar to epinions, only for physicians rather than products...

After hearing one too many horror stories about bad experiences with doctors and dentists, I'm almost tempted to follow the lead of dcdoctors and construct something of the sort for my area. No doubt there's worries of litigation, as the founder of dcdoctors was informed.

But, would the same issues of defamation and slander apply if reviews were made anonymously? Or if there were some sort of standard form one could fill out, with ratings on a number scale, ala HotorNot or RateMyProfessors?

I know you lawyers out there can't dispense advice, but your strictly theoretical musings are appreciated.
posted by greatgefilte to Law & Government (5 answers total)
Ok, musing on a functional rather than legal level, this seems guaranteed to generate lawsuits. Not that I'm saying successful ones, but out of the whole profession competing for business, it's the unpopular doctors (and especially so if for quackery) who are probably going to sue the site admins for losing whatever business they have. Maybe they won't stand a snowball's chance in hell, but that won't save you from going through the trouble and expense of defending yourself in a suit.

Noble idea, however.

My suggestion: pay the $50 (could be free) for an initial consultation with a lawyer in your state. Find out how much it would cost for a drafted legal opinion on the subject, then if any suits against you are successful, you sue the lawyer for payment and indemnification. THIS is the reason to hire a lawyer -- because if they give you incorrect advice, you can sue them. A portion of their Bar fees go to a fund to pay out for circumstances just like this.
posted by dreamsign at 10:24 PM on August 19, 2005

The new Yahoo Local beta lets you rate basically anything that has an address. I just checked my area, and there are already reviews of a couple of doctors and dentists.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:29 PM on August 19, 2005

Hey, even better (for you) if somebody else does it.
posted by dreamsign at 10:39 PM on August 19, 2005

Run it off a hosted server in Russia or the Netherlands. Use obscurity in your domain registration or use domainsbyproxy. Kind of hard for the doc to sue you when you can't be found and your admin is in Utrecht.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:58 PM on August 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

Assuming you're talking about US doctors, I have aetna insurance and already allows you to "rate"/review your doctors through its docfind pages. Dunno how moderated it is though.
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:21 PM on August 20, 2005

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