Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorConsumer Investigator Jodi Brooks and Producer Libby Smith do a nice job explaining the pros and pitfalls of online ratings of doctors.

Personally, I think the web- at least at this point- can be a valuable tool to rate a new dishwasher or perhaps a vacation resort, but I wouldn’t put too much trust into letting your keyboard do the walking to pick someone  making life-altering decisions about your health.

My issues are multiple:

Many sites only have less than five ratings for a doctor. Some have none. Much too few for a valid sample.

The  “grades” or opinions are anonymous. Who is writing this stuff?

What you see are really only opinions– there is little basis for rating the skill level of a doctor on these sites.

Then consider–how motivated are you to post an opinion of a doctor? It seems those who do take the time and make the effort to post are those who are at the extremes: they either think their doctor is a god, or they believe the doctor should have their license revoked.

The information by these sites is often culled from a variety of databases… and often inaccurate. According to the web, I have six offices, eight phone numbers, and have specialties ranging from Pediatrics to Trauma Surgery. In reality,  I am a board certified in Family Practice, and have been since 1983.

Finally, doctors cannot respond because of privacy rules. I was floored when I ran across the one site where a patient’s family member said I was”rude, unprofessional, and demeaning.”  I contacted the site to tell my side of the story. They refused to pull the post. They dared me to sue them.

So, I told them to forget it and wished them luck with their site.  After all of my years of practice, I am comfortable with how I like my patients, and how they like me. The same goes for my peers.

As for one angry person, I cannot respond because of privacy rules.

But I can say, since this part is public record, this angry person — in the waiting room — was so loud and frightening, my office was told to call 911 because they and the other patients present in the office were scared to death.

Simple anger is one thing. In today’s world, 911 is another.

So you see, there is more to the story. And to this day, I don’t understand what caused the eruption — it sure wasn’t on my part or anything the staff did.

I just hope this person one day finds and receives the quality and attentive care that is the right of every family.  Plus learns how to be a good partner in health care.

I’m just not sure they will find what they want online.


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