What doctors should do if criticised in the social media

We are seeing quite a trend these days for people to take to the social media to criticize all manner of things, including healthcare, doctors, nurses and medical staff.
Some of these criticisms may be the result of poor communication or poor understanding on the part of patients or relatives leading to unwarranted criticisms which in some cases even amount to slander.
How should doctors react? Should doctors sue?

Here are some useful tips from KevinMD which I think all doctors should consider. In essence:
1) Do listen to the criticism as the patient is trying to vent in the most convenient means at hand these days
2) Do not engage in online debates with the patient. Take it offline and engage privately with disgruntled patients.
3) Do not sue as it risks the “Streisand effect” and at the end of the day, the lawyers are the winners.

Some time ago, there was a blog post criticizing a local obstetrician for proceeding with a caesarian section but the author of the blog post did not really understand the whole picture. Instead of taking action against her or even suing her, the hospital administration engaged the blogger privately and the blog post was taken down and replaced with an apology. That’s probably the best way to handle things but it requires a sympathetic administration and one willing to assist the doctor and do the right thing.

I think we need to be careful before we shoot off those social media posts criticising our healthcare staff. Do you really know the whole story? Why not talk and discuss with the doctor or hospital administration instead?

This post was inspired by discussions in the DOBBS forums. DOBBS, or Doctors Only Bulletin Board System, is the pioneer initiative to connect Malaysian doctors online. Today there are well over 12,000 doctors in all our platforms comprising Web forums, Social Media (Dobbs Facebook is the biggest Malaysian doctors group with over 11,600 members) and the new Docquity app based platform.
For more information on how to join the DOBBS network, see http://dobbs.my


Malaysian physician, haematologist, blogger, web and tech enthusiast