1. Visit Yelp and other sites such as Angie’s List, RateMDs.com, and Rate My Professor. Are reviewers limited in any way regarding what they can say on such sites? Should they be limited?
2. Discuss the arguments for and against doctors’ rights to require medical gag-orders. Recommend how doctors should handle this situation.
If you like a restaurant . . . Yelp about it! If you don’t . . . Yelp about it! Yelp is an online guide that posts customers’ reviews of local businesses such as restaurants, spas, and even doctors. Businesses are rated based on the reviews posted about them, with 5 stars being the best. Although almost 60 percent are 4- or 5-star reviews, the remaining reviews are less positive. Bad reviews can be the kiss-of-death for a small business. Businesses do not put this information on the Yelp site-others do. This is creating a problem for many businesses. Some customers demand something in return for posting a positive review, or worse, for not posting a negative review. One restaurant owner claimed a customer threatened to post a “scathing” review after allegedly getting food poisoning from eating at the restaurant unless he received a $100 gift card. This is not much different than the unethical customers who put glass shards or a dead cockroach on their plates and demand their meal for free (conveniently when they’ve almost finished the dish). Most restaurants capitulate to avoid a scene. But a negative Yelp or other online review is more ominous, with “word-of-mouse” having such far-reaching and lasting consequences. Some medical professionals have gone so far as to require new patients to sign anti-defamation contracts called “medical gag-orders” before receiving treatment. These waivers attempt to prevent patients from posting negative reviews online and often include signing over copyrights of any reviews posted in an attempt to gain leverage in removing any negative content from rating sites. Some sites, such as Angie’s List, flag physicians requiring such waivers, and one state-Michigan-has introduced a bill deeming such waivers illegal.