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Bret Hanna
Bret Hanna
Attorney • 435-649-2525

Medical Gag Orders?

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In yet another attempt to shield themselves from public scrutiny, some doctors are now requiring their patients to sign waivers that limit what they can say about the care they have received on doctor rating websites. There are about 30 websites currently dedicated to patients reviewing the doctors who care for them. It appears that some doctors are afraid of what their patients may say about them.

Those doctors are now requiring that their patients sign "Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy" waivers that are included with other routine paperwork that is put in front of patients before they can see the doctor. Critics call the agreements gag orders driven by doctor distrust of patients. Advocates like Medical Justice, an organization aimed at protecting physicians from so-called "frivolous lawsuits," claim the agreements give doctors a tool to combat baseless or fictional criticisms.

I suppose there is always the possibility of patients posting reviews that are inaccurate or downright false. But we have freedom of speech in this country and that applies to the web. If a doctor really feels that a patient has posted false information online about them that degrades their reputation, the law already provides a remedy. That remedy is a libel suit.

One online site that has pushed back against the gag orders is RateMDs.com. It has a Wall of Shame that lists the doctors that require their patients to sign the gag contracts. If you are one to share your experience with your doctor with others, check the site and pay careful attention to paper work your doctor’s office puts in front of you before you can see the doctor.