“All your reviews are belong to us”: Medical Justice is still in business

One of the first posts on this blog that got wider attention was in March 2009: RateMDs.com: Medical Justice’s approach is “repulsive”:

…a company called Medical Justice wants to help doctors avoid consumer ratings, by getting patients to sign an agreement saying all their conversations arethe doctor’s property, trade secrets, so the patient isn’t allowed to tell anyone what the doctor said.

How disempowering is that?

We cited an AP piece that says if a doctor uses Medical Justice, then MJ will force doctor-ratings sites to remove any negative ratings a patient has given. “Good luck with that,” we said, because on a site like RateMDs.com, ratings are anonymous. On ZDNet, Dana Blankenhorn quoted our view: an “almost comical attempt to hold back the tide” of social media.

Well, this morning SPM loyalist Myrna Morales forwarded this link: Doctors and dentists tell patients, “all your review are belong to us”. (It’s a play on the video game phrase “All your base are belong to us” that went viral ten years ago.)

The guy picked this dentist, Dr. Cirka, because he’s one of Yelp’s highest rated in Philadelphia. Might this have anything to do with Medical Justice forcing Yelp to remove negative reviews?

If you use online ratings sites, be careful where you get them. Personally I don’t give a shred of attention to anonymous ratings – they could be shills, friends or enemies of the vendor. Online ratings are like any other source: they’re just one input, so don’t assume they’re perfect.

And if you want my advice, don’t go near providers who ask you to sign something saying the visit is their property. My view is that it’s your health, your body, and services that you bought.

It’s fine with me if others disagree, but I urge people to stand up for themselves.

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Comments

6 Responses to ““All your reviews are belong to us”: Medical Justice is still in business”

  1. Dave – In 2008, I asked any of my readers who was given a copy of Medical Justice paperwork to sign, to keep a copy of it and walk out the door. While we don’t have a copy of the paperwork that says the doctor owns the review, we do have a copy of an arbitration agreement which says that the patient is not allowed to sue. So, yes, that’s another one to watch out for.

    Trisha Torrey
    Every Patient’s Advocate

  2. Pete says:

    The Medical Justice position seems to have some fundamental conflicts with the rights afforded patients in HIPAA. HIPAA provides patients the right to a set of information; while the unwritten/unrecorded content of the clinical encounter is not specifically addressed in HIPAA, the rest of HIPAA makes no sense if one can legally place a gag order on patients. Imagine the situation: you have the legal right to a set of medical information, and even to make public that medical information, but you are barred from speaking about the encounter when that information was collected? This is impracticable, and unlikely to stand in court. This is the kind of idiocy ACLU lawyers likes to crush during their coffee breaks.

  3. David Harlow says:

    For more on all this, see: http://onward.justia.com/2011/04/15/medical-justice-or-doctored-reviews/ including info on a ratings site that ignores MJ takedown notices.

    If you have real world reasons to visit a doc who subscribes to this service, you could always either sign the paper and rely on its being unenforceable, or even add a slight amendment or two before you sign.

    I wouldn’t let this stand in the way of seeing a doc I chose not based on an online review but based on personal recommendations of clinicians and patients I trust.

    In such a circumstance, a conversation with the doc or staff after the fact could help clear up their misconceptions about the service.

  4. jonmcrawford says:

    Followup article from Ars Technica, where Medical Justice is posting good reviews “on the behalf” of patients:

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/05/medical-justice-caught-impersonating-happy-patients-on-yelp-ratemds.ars

    • In case you didn’t click that, the title of that Ars Technica update is:
      “Medical Justice caught impersonating happy patients on Yelp, RateMDs.”

      In a big ironic LOL, the post ends with a link labeled “This is funny.” Sadly, it leads to a blog post at Medical Justice that’s been taken down. Hm, wonder what it was?

      Praise Google Cache, bane of all scoundrels: I popped the URL into Google and unearthed the cache. It was Medical Justice’s Eleventh Commandment:

      Thou Shall Not Impersonate Others on the Internet

      I bet the MJ folks are fuming that they can’t erase their tracks, because it means we can see what they actually did! :–)

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