Online Bedside Manner

Posted by admin | May 24th, 2011

Everyday, it seems, there is an online defamation suit being filed of some notoriety. This one caught my eye because of the seemingly mild manner of the complaint. A judge dismissed a lawsuit concerning online defamation when a doctor brought a suit against the son of a patient, whom he saw for a stroke, because of the son’s postings on an online review website.

But St. Louis County District Court Judge Eric L. Hylden said the statements were “nothing more or less than one man’s description of shock at the way he and in particular his father were treated by his physician” and said there was no reason to treat online comments any differently than more traditional means of expression.

While I disagree that chatting it up with your friend about a doctor’s bedside manner is the same as posting an online review or comment about him, I get the basic point of what the judge is saying. There is no reason to intervene here because in the end, the son is just expressing his opinion about the services rendered by the doctor. Ultimately, this boils down to the doctor wanting to protect his online reputation. If that is his real concern, he should turn to reputation management instead of lawsuits.

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