Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Doctors Try Gag Agreement to Silence Internet Critics

Today's Indianapolis Star brings an interesting article about some physicians requiring patients to sign a provision that they would not criticize the doctor on-line. There are a number of internet websites that contain ratings of doctors and comments of patients. Many of these websites allow for anonymous postings. Also rating services like Angie's List allow patients to comment on physicians.

Not exactly on point, but I'm reminded of an attorney who had his employees sign a provision saying they agree that sexual harassment in the workplace was part of the job, they consented to it, and would not file a complaint. Needless to say, the agreement did not sit well with the Disciplinary Commission.

Likewise, I don't think the Disciplinary Commission would approve of a clause in an attorney-client contract in which the client agreed not to publicly criticize the performance of the attorney.

Frankly, I'm doubtful the physician gag agreement would even be legally enforceable. I think it is designed more to scare a patient away from exercising his or her free speech rights and to use against those who publish the patient's comments. But regardless, the physicians need to accept that when they put themselves out there to provide a service to the public, the public has a right to criticize and comment. It is a little thing called Free Speech which is in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Deal with it.

1 comment: said...

Imagine if attorneys faced malpractice suits when they lost cases.