Wednesday, March 04, 2009
One of my coworkers forwarded me this link to RateMDs.com. The site allows patients to rate and read about their doctors and dentists in several countries including United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and India. Comments can be made anonymously and this has invited criticism from physicians and medical associations who fear that defamatory reviews could potentially damage a doctor's career. Having worked in an allied health profession for over thirty years, I have seen the best and the worst of medical care. Most of the doctors I have worked with are top notch but it is frustrating to see physicians who get away with being consistently rude and negligent in their practice. Complaints can be made to the College of Physicians and Surgeons but I have heard of only a few instances where disciplinary action was taken and they were related to extreme cases of illegal dispensing of narcotics or inappropriate sexual behaviour with patients.
Doctors are human and can make honest mistakes. But a doctor who truly listens to the patient and is compassionate, open and personable will usually be forgiven if errors are made. The five doctors I work with right now are exemplary in all these areas. Our patients and their families have great respect for them and often say they have never had physicians who really listened to them before. We have our share of difficult patients but they also receive fair and firm treatment.
I spent some time reviewing the physicians I know on RateMD and must say the ratings were right on. Most physicians have very favourable scores and I predicted the poorly rated ones accurately. Most bad reviews were for rude bedside manners and failure to listen to the patient. I looked up Dr. Judy Paley who blogs as Femail Doc and is on my blog roll. She had a five star rating which did not surprise me in the least. And one of her patients who appreciates her sense of humour said if Dr. Paley got tired of medicine she could be a stand up comic. If you read the comments about her here, it is easy to see what patients value in a physician.
Some physicians are asking their patients to sign contracts which prohibit them from posting any information online about the care they receive. This current article from Newsday.com discusses the legal implications of the contracts and suppression of the right to free speech.
Listen... respect... explain... be compassionate...
If every physician, lawyer, nurse, physiotherapist, teacher remembered those words, there would be little to fear on a personal blog or a website like RateMDs.com. And I am about to leave a few positive comments about my doctors, particularly my family physician, orthopedic surgeon and the doctors I work with.
P.S. You can also rate Dr. Gregory House, just for fun!