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Medical Justice Anti Defamation


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Each year many groundless malpractice suits are initiated against health care providers. Physicians are pressured to settle frivolous lawsuits in order to minimize their financial risk. Damaging physician's reputations. Creating undue stress. And greatly increasing malpractice insurance premiums. The legal system leaves physicians vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits filed by unethical plaintiffs, attorneys and "expert" witnesses.

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Medical Justice Anti Defamation

  1. 1. Protecting Physicians… Relentlessly Protecting Physicians’ Most Precious Asset – Their Reputation…
  2. 2. One Goal of Medical Justice: Anti-Defamation <ul><li>Defamation on the web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sites against single doctors: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Third party sites addressing all doctors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>,;;;;;;,……… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Health insurance carrier “Zagat” sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Doctor Rating Sites: Are They Helpful? This was one of the worst doctor's visits I've ever had. Dr. XXXX was unconcerned with how scared I was and seemed arrogant. Her staff treats you like you're a moron, particularly on the phone.
  4. 4. Doctor Rating Sites: Are They Helpful? <ul><li>Many sites allow anonymous posts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Poster can represent they are patients even if they are not </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Disgruntled employees </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ex-spouses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Competitors </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Information is not statistical or actionable </li></ul><ul><li>Patients reasonably want to know how skilled their physician is. These sites do not answer that question. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Emerging Issues: Defamation on Internet <ul><li>Defamation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>False statement of or concerning another causing harm to reputation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Defenses: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Truth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opinion </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Defamation: Traditional Print Media Tough to prove – but can be done <ul><li>2 Targets: </li></ul><ul><li>Author - journalist </li></ul><ul><li>Distributor - paper </li></ul>Author usually identifiable Legal standard: Preponderance of evidence (>51%)
  7. 7. Defamation: Internet Traditional legal remedy virtually out of reach <ul><li>1 Target: </li></ul><ul><li>Author – if known </li></ul><ul><li>Distributor - ISP </li></ul>Author usually anonymous Legal standard for MDs: Clear & convincing (>75%)
  8. 8. Emerging Issues: Defamation on Internet <ul><li>Solution: Contract </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physician beefs up privacy protections for patient </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Patient will not post about care on Internet without doctor’s permission </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Patient can still discuss care with family, doctors, attorney, licensing board, hospital, and on and on. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Really? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anonymous postings can be removed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Immunomedics v. Jean Doe, aka “moonshine_fr”, 775 A.2d 773 (N.J. Super. 2001) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Raytheon v. John Does 1-2 , Commonwealth Massachusetts, Middlesex Sup. Ct., Civil Action 99-0816 </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Emerging Issues: Defamation on Internet <ul><li>Isn’t freedom of speech absolute? No. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fire in crowded theatre: Schenck v. United States , 249 U.S. 47 (1919); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fighting words: Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire , 315 U.S. 568 (1942); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Obscenity: Miller v. California , 413 U.S. 15 (1973). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other: “Bong hits 4 Jesus banner” Morse v. Frederick , 127 S. Ct. 2618 (2007) </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Emerging Issues: Defamation on Internet <ul><li>Isn’t freedom of speech absolute? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Medical malpractice lawsuit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Medical record cannot serve as both sword and shield </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Privacy protections always in tension with freedom of speech </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Doctor cannot post medical record to disprove negative posts on blogs </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Summary <ul><li>Physicians can deter having their reputations inappropriately sullied on the Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Use agreements, upfront, with patients </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to better protect the patient’s privacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to provide physicians with a viable tool to remove defamatory posts or seek a remedy from those who violated the agreement. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Patients and doctors benefit </li></ul>