Posted by: Witch Doctor | October 25, 2008

Iwantgreatcare – Ha! A test case maybe…

Apart from Iwantgreatcare.org, there are several well established sites in other parts of the world where patients are allowed to rate their doctors e.g.

RATEMDS

VITALS

REVOLUTION HEALTH

ZAGAT GETS INTO DOCTOR RATINGS

In the USA doctors have tried to sue but have been largely unsuccessful. Presumably this gives Dr Neil Bacon and his lawyers a sense of security.

However, eBay is head and shoulders above other sites on the question of feedback and indeed eBay was quoted by Dr Shai Roy in a recent article.

However, it is now reported that an eBay buyer faces libel action after giving negative feedback. He refused to remove the feedback after the seller refunded him. The seller’s grounds for the libel case relate to the fact that the comments were damaging to his business. Apparently this is the first time such a libel case has reached the UK courts.

The Times comments:

“However, as the law of libel – that of publishing a false or defamatory statement which damages someone’s reputation – applies online as well as in print, Mr Read could have a case to answer if the court decides his comments qualify as libellous.”

If the seller wins, are there any implications in the UK for IwantGreatCare.org where the feedback may be unreliable and damaging? After all, nothing could be more damaging to a doctor’s reputation than a low score for trustworthiness.

How does a patient prove in court of law that his/her doctor is not trustworthy?

But, unlike eBay, Iwantgreatcare comments are anonymous. The question is: how anonymous is anonymous? Iwantgreatcare.org will have access to enough information to identify the individual. Probably most doctors who know their patients well, would immediately be able to work out very easily who was responsible for bad feedback. There will have been an incident. Patients may feel they are well hidden among 2000 other patients. Not so. They may for example be only three or four patients in the practice who have had significant problems with a particular doctor, and whose personality is such they would leave negative feedback on a public site. The doctor will have a pretty good idea who the patient is. In any case, most patients will talk about it to someone and, if a case of defamation follows, information will leak.

Anonymous my foot!

Has this seller any chance at all of of winning in the UK?

No?

Think about the consequences for sites that rely on very public feedback if he does.

BASIC UK LIBEL LAW FOR IDIOTS

UK DEFAMATION ACT 1996


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: