My doctor has asked me to sign an anti-review contract. Do I have to?
Absolutely not. You are not legally obligated to sign any contract that limits your ability to talk online about your experiences with your doctor.
What if my doctor refuses to treat me unless I sign an anti-review contract?
- Tell your doctor that you don’t want to sign the contract. Speak up and advocate for your interests. It can be intimidating to negotiate with your doctor; but to get the highest quality medical care, you will need to be able to talk openly and honestly with your doctor about everything. Start that dialogue by honestly telling your doctor how you feel about the request to restrict your online review rights. How the doctor responds to your concerns provides you with an indication of how he or she will respond to your medical needs in the course of providing services to you. If your doctor doesn’t listen to you now, what are the chances he or she will listen to you when you’re in pain or need other serious medical treatment?
- Remind your doctor of his or her duty to “do no harm.” You might point out how using a contract promising additional privacy protections could be misleading in light of the fact that federal and state health privacy laws already mandate strong privacy. Implying otherwise is ethically suspect. Additionally, requiring patients to sign anti-review contracts potentially conflicts with the American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics: by placing doctors’ “financial interest above the welfare of their patients” (Opinion 8.03); and by violating patient confidentiality when they identify their patients’ names to enforce medical gag orders (Opinion 10.01(4)).
- Print out or email the doctors’ page to your doctor, which explains why anti-review contracts are not a good choice for the doctor either legally or ethically.
- Vote with your wallet. Take your business elsewhere. But when you do, tell your doctor why. Let your doctor know that the anti-review contract is costing the doctor money and patient goodwill.
- Report your doctor to RateMD.com, a website that tracks doctors who use anti-review contracts.
- File a complaint with a government consumer protection or regulatory agency.