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ANSWERS FOR ACTION:
You can take steps to prevent or reduce negative online comments
e-Reports, Sept. 16, 2013
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ProAssurance offers risk management recommendations to help you with equipment, resources and discharge planning. Untitled document

Q. I am concerned about “rate the doctor” websites because the information may be one-sided. How can I respond?

A. Perhaps the best response is none, advised risk management experts. In general, resolving disputes through online exchanges carries great potential for misunderstanding, as well as perceived anonymity, which may lead to a more heated exchange than had the patient approached a physician directly.

Risk management experts recommend a proactive approach by alleviating the desire to complain. Effective ways to do so and lessen liability risk in the process include:

  • Encouraging patients to provide feedback and effectively addressing the feedback
  • Conducting patient satisfaction surveys and making appropriate enhancements as a result
  • Establishing a patient complaint process

Effectively managing patient complaints is an important risk-management measure. Patients who feel their concerns go unheard are more likely to turn to a rating site to post a negative review (and in some cases, file suit). It is prudent to have a written policy in place that is accessible to patients and informs them how they may file a complaint. It is equally beneficial that staff members be trained to manage patient complaints. Here are some suggestions:

  • Listen – while seemingly obvious – and remain calm while facing the patient.
  • Repeat the patient’s concern, which reinforces that you heard them.
  • Ask questions to clarify the complaint.
  • Take action by addressing the patient’s complaint and keep them informed of the progress.
  • Document the complaint.

While these measures do not ensure a patient won’t provide a negative online rating, they may go a long way in preventing or reducing the desire to do so.

Physicians insured by ProAssurance may contact our Risk Management department for prompt answers to liability questions by calling (800) 292-1036.

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