As an attorney who has represented Doctors of Chiropractic in malpractice cases for many years, I have seen firsthand why it is essential for doctors to be aware of the impact that the Internet and technology have on their practices.
Posted in Social & Electronic Media on Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Read on for a few examples that illustrate why this is the case, or view my video on this topic.
Rate My Doctor Sites
There are a number of websites that allow people to rate their doctors. If someone is disgruntled and they post a bad review of your services on one of these sites, that’s a problem. Millions of people who are searching for a Doctor of Chiropractic in your particular area or with your particular expertise may see it.
My suggestion is that you or someone in your office monitor what people are saying about you. This can be done simply by Googling your name. In some of these incidences, you can correct a false review or even erase it from your record. In other cases, you may be able to provide additional information to balance out a negative review. Web services also exist to monitor for any negative or disparaging comments/reviews and can act quickly to correct or remove these comments.
Text and Voice Messaging
I have defended doctors who have received text messages from their patients, but then didn’t copy or save the text messages. As a result, the text messages were not part of the record. In cases like this, a patient typically will say that he or she reached out to the doctor and the doctor gave xyz advice or never responded. If the doctor is not able to produce the text message responses after a lawsuit is filed, that could create issues for the doctor.
Although my preference would be for doctors not to use text messages to interact with their patients, if you decide to do this, I would suggest that you take a screen shot of those text messages. Make sure to include them in your record for that patient so that it is documented. That way the content of the conversations is saved and nobody can accuse you of something different.
When it comes to using the older technology of voicemail, I think it’s dangerous to allow people to leave messages without making it very clear that your voicemail is not monitored for purposes of clinical or treatment advice. In addition, I would suggest that your voicemail should include a statement that if a patient is having a problem, he or she should contact the office during business hours. If an emergency exists, they should be directed to hang up and go to the local ER immediately.
I represented a chiropractor before a state regulatory board. He was a D.C. who advertised on his website his ability to perform certain procedures that were borderline medical. To avoid letting people know he was a chiropractor, he left out any reference to being a chiropractor or the fact that he was a D.C.
Because anything on the Internet is easily found, the state board learned quickly what the doctor was claiming. They came down pretty heavy on him for what they thought was false advertising and for offering procedures that were outside the scope of what the state allowed a D.C. to do. Of course, the board likely would have learned about the doctor’s activities anyway—the fact that they were online just accelerated the process.
Keep in Mind
The aforementioned concerns don’t even touch on social media, which is a whole bailiwick unto itself. Regardless, the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep your communication and your content on a professional level and to always comply with your state requirements. If in doubt, contact NCMIC for assistance or talk to an attorney well-versed in handling social media issues and your practice.