In our first edition of Healthfiles we reported on both the
opportunities and risks which social media creates for health care
organisations and professionals, and the care which must be taken
when publishing or communicating online. The flip side is also
true. Patients should be careful about what they say about their
health care providers, as an unsuspecting jazz club singer from
Scottsdale Arizona recently found out.
Dr Albert Carlotti and his wife Michelle, also a doctor, operate
the Dessert Palms Surgical Group (which has a Facebook page
featuring a picture of the Carlottis with Mohammed Ali).
Scottsdale jazz singer Sherrie Petta had cosmetic surgery on her
nose and other treatment performed at the Dessert Palms Surgical
Centre in 2007. She developed a subsequent infection which she
blamed on the Carlottis. She took her frustrations that one step
further by setting up a website critical of the Carlottis and the
treatment that she received. The Carlottis were successful in
obtaining an order that Ms Petta take down the site. The cyber
attack did not stop there however as Ms Petta subsequently filed a
complaint with the Medical Board and posted items about the
Carlottis on various doctor-review websites. The Carlottis sued Ms
Petta for defamation.
On 17 December 2011 a jury awarded Mr and Mrs Carlotti
$11million in damages for damage to reputation and loss of business
and $1million in punative damages. Dr Albert Carlotti is reported
as saying that he was put in a bind faced by many doctors whose
patients post reviews (often anonymously) online which doctors
cannot respond to in most cases because they must abide by patient
Responding to online posts made by patients should be an issue
picked up by a health care organisation's social media policy.
Such policies are becoming increasingly important and ought to
cover issues from the use of social media at work, standards of
professional conduct on social media, prohibitions on disclosing
patient information and the like.
Elevista, a business initiative of Barry.Nilsson. Lawyers is
running Social Media workshops on "The Unsocial Side of Social
Media" in Sydney on 28 February and Brisbane on 1 March 2012.
For details please go to www.elevista.com.au.
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