Are You a 5-Star Doctor?

14 Feb 2017

sara bird

by Dr Sara Bird

Laptop screen showing the message 'We want your feedback'

Have you ever Googled your name? If you have, chances are you will have discovered that you are on a doctor-rating website. A recent study found that 53% of doctors and 39% of patients in the US had visited doctor-rating sites on at least one occasion. The figure in Australia is not known.

Reviews of doctor-rating websites reveal that almost 95% of comments about doctors are positive and not critical. However, my experience as a Medico-legal Adviser is that the small proportion of critical reviews are a source of enormous distress for those doctors involved.

Some doctors have repeatedly viewed the comments, while others have hastily posted a response or their own online reviews of themselves. The fact that complaints have been made about them is bad enough, but the distress is greatly magnified by having the comments available for “everyone” to see on the web.

Are doctor ratings associated with good quality care?

2015 JAMA study found no evidence that doctors' website ratings were associated with clinical quality measures. Some medical commentators have suggested that these sites are fundamentally flawed and unable to reflect the nuanced complexity of the doctor–patient relationship.

What should you do if you are the subject of a negative online review?

number of strategies are available. My advice is that before you do anything, seek guidance and support from a trusted colleague and/or your medical defence organisation.

And before you Google your name, it’s worth thinking how you will react if you find a comment which is critical of you.


This blog contains general information only. We recommend you contact your medical defence organisation or insurer when you require specific advice in relation to medico-legal matters.



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