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Patient sues over “privacy agreement” concerning web reviews

Timothy Lee at Ars Technica posted an interesting story today about a patient who has filed a class-action lawsuit against his dentist over her attempts to suppress his review on Yelp and on other ratings sites using copyright law and an agreement called a "Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy." Lee reports:

Lee told Ars that the controversy began last year, when he spent a weekend camping in Alabama. He developed a toothache so severe that he visited a local hospital. He was given painkillers, and when he returned home to New York on Monday he called Dr. Stacy Makhnevich's office to schedule an appointment. They couldn't see him until Thursday, and he says he had to take sleeping pills that week to allow him to sleep through the pain.

When he arrived for his appointment, he was required to sign a "Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy" before he could receive treatment. Lee says he understood the contract, but he was in intense pain, and "I couldn't think of any way a dentist would want to screw me over, so I went ahead and signed it."

The rest of the story is worth reading if you're interested in the policy issues surrounding patient-generated reviews of health-care providers. And if you'd like to read more on the subject, Lee covered a similar story six months ago, and Stanford's own Bassam Kadry, MD, discussed physician-rating sites in a recent Scope Q&A.

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