A year ago, a New York state dentist was exposed for having her patients sign anti-defamation contracts, stating that they will not give her negative reviews online, or else they will be fined. What happens when a dentist does something that a patient has a legitimate right to complain about? Who can defend the patient if they have signed away their right to be heard? This happened to patient Robert Lee who sued the dentist, stating that her contract was, “unethical, invalid and illegal”.
Many patients probably skip a lot of the fine print and don’t fully understand what they are signing when the receptionist hands them a big stack of paperwork. In a perfect world, if we do the best for our patients, be honest with them, and treat their mouths as if they were our own, then there should be no need for this type of contract. Unfortunately, as we enter the growing world of social media and the possibility of having information at our fingertips, we are encountering these new ethical issues.
More recent, a Portland dentist is suing his patient for a bad Yelp review. Dr. Mo Saleh is asking his patient for $300,000 for defamation of his reputation. Dr. Saleh claims the patient “crossed the line” by posting fraud claims.
Do you think an anti-defamation contract is necessary to have in your practice? Would this contract make you question a dentist’s ethics, or just show that the dentist is protecting herself from future legal problems? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.
~Carolyn Norton, Contributing Editor, Florida ‘14