Navigating Negative Online Reviews: A Guide for Surgeons

In the digital age, online reviews have become a significant aspect of a medical professional’s reputation. For surgeons, a single negative review can have substantial implications. As policyholders of THEMIS, understanding how to professionally and effectively deal with such reviews is crucial. This article provides a roadmap for managing negative patient feedback online while maintaining professional integrity and patient confidentiality.

Assessing the Review

The first step in addressing a negative review is a careful assessment. Identify the core issue: is it about the quality of care, bedside manner, administrative processes, or something else? A clear understanding of the complaint is essential for a relevant and constructive response.

Acknowledgment and Empathy

Responding to a negative review begins with acknowledgment and empathy. An apology for the patient’s dissatisfaction - not necessarily an admission of fault - can demonstrate empathy and understanding. This approach shows prospective patients that you take feedback seriously and are committed to improving their experience.

Maintaining Professionalism

When responding, professionalism is key. Avoid defensiveness and ensure no patient-specific information is disclosed, as this could lead to breaches of patient confidentiality and legal complications.

Resolution Offer

If appropriate, offer to discuss the matter privately. Providing a contact method for further discussion can help resolve misunderstandings and address genuine concerns in a more suitable forum.

Constructive Use of Feedback

Use feedback constructively. If there are recurring themes in negative reviews, it might indicate areas for improvement, be it in clinical skills, communication, or administrative processes.

Encouraging Positive Feedback

Balancing negative reviews with positive ones is also important. Encouraging satisfied patients to share their experiences can provide a more comprehensive picture of your practice.

Online Presence Monitoring

Regular monitoring of your online presence is crucial. It helps in promptly addressing issues and maintaining a positive online reputation.

Public Responses

Responding publicly demonstrates that patient feedback is valued. Keep responses general, respectful, and non-confrontational.

Educating Staff

If the review involves other staff members, use the feedback as an opportunity for additional training or to clarify procedures and policies.

Access Support

For reviews containing false statements or those that are particularly damaging, consulting your indemnity provider is advisable. THEMIS can provide you with guidance on the best course of action to protect your reputation and career and signpost you to relevant legal or PR specialists in this field should this become necessary.

Key Takeaways:

  • Empathy and Professionalism: Acknowledge the patient’s feelings while maintaining professionalism in your response.
  • Privacy Compliance: Be mindful of patient confidentiality and privacy laws.
  • Positive Engagement: Encourage positive reviews and actively manage your online reputation.
  • Legal Awareness: Be aware of legal implications, especially regarding patient confidentiality and potential defamation.
  • Continual Improvement: Use feedback as a tool for personal and professional growth.

In conclusion, dealing with negative online reviews requires a balanced approach, blending professionalism, empathy, and a commitment to continuous improvement. By following these guidelines, surgeons can effectively manage their online reputation, ensuring that their digital presence accurately reflects their dedication to patient care and professional excellence.

If you are insured with THEMIS and have experienced negative online reviews then please do not hesitate to get in touch to see how we can assist.