The DoctorBase article linked below follows up on the case of Dr. Yvonne Wong who sued for damages based on negative patient reviews on Yelp. To add to Dr. Wong’s misery the court not only found against her but ordered her to pay over $80,000 in defendants legal fees. Ouch! The article gives all the legal theory behind the ruling. I understand the theory never the less the ruling does not seem just.
Despite my personal opinion the legal opinion we need to be aware of and follow for now is that we have very little recourse against negative reviews and in fact attempting to confront them can be a disaster. At least it has been so far for Dr. Wong.
I commonly find negative reviews of dentists online. Here is an example of one chosen randomly from Google. “Please find another Dentist! Unfortunately, I learned the hard way… he ended up rushing and drilling so deep that I could feel the pain through 2 shots of novacaine!” Many if not most of the time I imagine the dentist does not even know the review is there. Yet I am certain a patient looking for a dentist who encounters a review like this one will move on to another option. Online reviews are incredibly powerful.
The good news for consumers is you have more information to help you make good choices. The bad news the system is ripe for abuse and for now there is nothing you can do about it. In fact based on the case of Dr. Wong making a stand can cost you big time.
Well, it just got even worse for Dr. Wong. Last week the judge ruled that, because the lawsuits had no legal standing, Dr. Wong would have to cover the legal fees of the defendants named in her lawsuits.