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When Doctors And Dentists Start Requiring “Mutual Privacy Agreements” With Patients

We (especially doctors themselves) like to think docs are smart. While all are very well educated in medicine, it doesn’t mean they’re actually smart at much else. Docs are well known to lose gobs of money in stupid ‘investements’ like Avacado farms and ostrich ranches (and yes, there are those with the chicken ranch problems, as well).

Here’s a dumb thing some docs are adopting I hope goes away quickly, as it’s actually not in the best interest of medicine:

When I walked into the offices of Dr. Ken Cirka, I was looking for cleaner teeth, not material for an Ars Technica story. I needed a new dentist, and Yelp says Dr. Cirka is one of the best in the Philadelphia area. The receptionist handed me a clipboard with forms to fill out. After the usual patient information form, there was a “mutual privacy agreement” that asked me to transfer ownership of any public commentary I might write in the future to Dr. Cirka. Surprised and a little outraged by this, I got into a lengthy discussion with Dr. Cirka’s office manager that ended in me refusing to sign and her showing me the door.

The agreement is based on a template supplied by an organization called Medical Justice, and similar agreements have been popping up in doctors’ offices across the country. And although Medical Justice and Dr. Cirka both claim otherwise, it seems pretty obvious that the agreements are designed to help medical professionals censor their patients’ reviews.

via Doctors and dentists tell patients, “all your review are belong to us”.

Read the article to get a good flavor of the problem, but here’s the moral objection I think eviscerates their doing this (from the article):

When Ars asked Schultz about medical professionals who ask their patients to sign these agreements, he was scathing. “It’s completely unethical for doctors to force their patients to sign away their rights in order to get medical care,” he said. He pointed out that patients seeking treatment can be particularly vulnerable to coercion. Patients might be in acute pain or facing a life-threatening illness. Such patients are in no position to haggle over the minutia of copyright law.

Do good work, take charge of complaints, and live well.

*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*


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One Response to “When Doctors And Dentists Start Requiring “Mutual Privacy Agreements” With Patients”

  1. Neil Mehta says:

    We live in interesting times. I had read that these waivers and gag rules would not stand up in court due to Freedom of Speech. A lawyer friend said since these are private contracts Freedom of speech does not apply.

    Here is a humorous take on this and the recent professionalism in SoMe issue.
    goo.gl/sOhyv

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