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Turning the Tables: Doctors Rate Patients

Author Information (click to view)

Skeptical Scalpel

Skeptical Scalpel is a recently retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last three years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 1000 page views per day, and he has over 7000 followers on Twitter.

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Skeptical Scalpel (click to view)

Skeptical Scalpel

Skeptical Scalpel is a recently retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last three years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 1000 page views per day, and he has over 7000 followers on Twitter.

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Some doctors, tired of often capricious, inaccurate, and statistically flawed ratings of their performance, have decided to fight back.

“Pa-Rate,” is a new service that enables physicians and their office staffs as well as hospital personnel to anonymously grade the performance of patients they encounter.

Speaking for the group who developed the website, Dr. Giovanni van Bronckhorst, a surgeon, who is president of the American Association of Medical Doctors, said, “We think it is now time for doctors to start evaluating their patients.”

The patient rating system will cover several categories including compliance with diet, exercise and other instructions, taking medications, courtesy, frequency of cancellation of appointments, showing up late, paying bills on time and calling for prescription refills on weekends.

When a patient calls any physician for an appointment, staff can access the Pa-Rate website and enter the patient’s name and birth date.

A complete summary of all ratings—from 1 star to 5 stars—will appear. Data on whether a patient has ever been discharged from a practice or sued anyone will also be displayed.

Dr. Nicholas Anelka, a family practitioner from Piso Mojado, California, said, “I’m looking forward to using Pa-Rate to help me choose only the best patients for my practice.”

“It’s like Carfax, only for patients,” said Dr. van Bronckhorst.

The site will be free to all licensed physicians who register and will be supported by advertising from drug companies, device manufacturers, and malpractice insurance companies.

Patients will not be permitted to contest any ratings nor will discovery of names of physicians who submitted ratings be possible.

Not surprisingly, patient advocacy groups are up in arms about the plan claiming it may unfairly characterize certain patients. On hearing of the new service, the executive director of Patients for Justice, Leighton Baines said, “We are concerned that a single doctor who did not get along with a certain patient might unreasonably portray her as difficult.” He felt that this might hinder that patient’s ability to receive care.

Dr. van Bronckhorst countered that no one seems particularly concerned that a single negative rating from a patient or even a competing doctor with malicious intent might unfairly harm his practice.

The Pa-Rate site will go live on October first.

[Be advised that this post is a satire. There are no plans (that I know of) for a website where doctors could rate patients. I would be interested in your comments anyway.]

Skeptical Scalpel is a recently retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last three years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 1000 page views per day, and he has over 7000 followers on Twitter.

21 Comments

  1. I can understand the appeal of such a site, I am a teacher and we can get the same malicious and often inaccurate reviews on Rate My Professor. however, could you imagine if a patient legitimately sue a doctor for negligence and then no doctor would see them! I am know our society is particularly sue happy and that is a shame but the ability to sue also creates accountability so to take that away does indeed take away some form of patient protection.

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  2. I came upon this article while looking for a website that really allows doctors to rate patients.
    What a pity that the article is satire…

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    • Sorry to disappoint. I’m sure it will happen eventually.

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    • This idea occurred to me a while ago when a disrespectful, rude and ignorant parent of a pediatric patient posted a negative review on me because I simply asked her to stop continuously interrupting me while I patiently tried to explain what she was doing wrong and potentially aggravating the child’s condition. While I am willing to suffer a primitive, rude and disrespectful patient in order to treat them and help them, I am not willing to suffer their negative review which is damaging to my livelihood. The ideas how to rate, what qualities to rate and which information should be anonymous need to be worked out but this website or a list are long overdue. If Uber drivers can rate their fares why doctors could not rate their patients? Everything in our daily practice is dictated by the market and economic pressure. We must pay exorbitant malpractice premium to protect ourselves from unscrupulous lawyers and litigious patients, accept miserable insurance reimbursements to stay in-network and keep patients etc. It is true that thousands of my grateful and appreciative patients far outweigh few negative experiences and a review. On the other hand, we all know that a happy and satisfied patient is much less likely to find the time to post a positive review than an angry or disgruntled one. I believe this rating website or websites will not cause anyone to be denied care but may discourage pathological complainers when they would know they may get blacklisted.

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  3. So, just because a dr prescribes a medication doesn’t mean it was accurately prescribed. They may not listen or read the chart or have experience in all parts of the patient’s history. Drs have written the wrong things in charts, fabricated and attributed things that aren’t true without any testing or clinical evidence, have written the wrong use for medications prescribed by other drs as a default, and often not listened. That’s just my personal experience. There are some really horrible drs. There are some awesome drs. This hypothetical labeling of patients is unethical and a violation of privacy. The oath of ‘first do no harm’ would be violated.

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    • I understand your indignation. But I wish you had read the whole post–especially the part where I said, “[Be advised that this post is a satire. There are no plans (that I know of) for a website where doctors could rate patients. I would be interested in your comments anyway.]”

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  4. On the other hand, how compliant are physicians when they are the patients? People who second-guess specialists, know-it-alls, people who don’t even go to primary care doctors or specialists? People who take prescription drugs as they feel they need them…not adhering to their physicians’ instructions? When I first read this blog, I said aloud, “PLEEEEEZE,” this is insane. When I read it was satire, I said aloud, “PLEEEZE, this is crap. I stand by the latter.

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    • Insane or crap–either way it’s a no win situation for me. Question for you: why are there 5 “E’s” before the “Z” in “PLEEEEEZE” but only 3 “E’s” before the “Z” in “PLEEEZE”?

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  5. I like it. The concern that some doctor may maliciously spoil patient reputation is absolutely baseless . It is like feedback on ebay: if one customer wrote that he received wrong item could be malicious intent, 10,20 or more similar complaints are not bias. It is a pattern.

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    • True, but most patients will not have seen even 10 different doctors, especially 10 who would all submit ratings.

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  6. I Ihave always brought back PTS along with whoever they want into my consultation room after I have exam them in the examining room whether they are follow up PTS or New PTS. I explain in detail their medical problem and course of action. they all agree that they understand every thing that I discussed along with the plan of action. I would advise them go to the front office area for a return appointment. I would walk to the front area and advise them to return to my consultation room. I woutold proceed question them of what I said and the plan of action. I was amazed that 85% had no idea of what was recommended. I did this for six months So PTS must also take responsiblity

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    • I agree. Many people have made similar observations. This is an area that champions of shared decision-making have trouble understanding. They would tell you that you must not be explaining things properly. Having had similar experiences myself, I would bet that you did explain things well.

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  7. I read this with wonder and finally felt like I wasn’t alone, someone else “thinks” about wanting to rate patients in a “tit for tat” sort of way…I admit I couldn’t believe a group of physicians went ahead and created this service and even though this might be an early April Fools joke though I admit I was all set to check out the site out of curiosity. I was greatly relieved though that this is satire…I like to think that as a profession we are better than that. I try to see my desire to rate patients as more a reflection of my lack of efficacy and work to be better at motivational interviewing, improve my communication skills and be mindful in all my interactions with patients…those I love and…those I want to rate!

    Reply
    • I confess I wanted to be provocative with this post. It worked. The responses have been great including yours. It gives you something to think about, doesn’t it?

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  8. I’m finishing my 2nd year of medical school, preparing for my Step 1 board exam, and I was excited to read your post…until I got to the end. :-/ I really think there should be such a protection mechanism for physicians and a level of accountability for patients. Its ridiculous that we are taught medicine, only to be hindered in the way we practice it for fear we will be sued or kicked out of our HMO. Do some doctors need to have better bedside manner or make better judgement calls? Sure. But do patients need to have a level of risk they incur when they sue their doctor? I think so. If not, what’s stopping them from suing anyone for anything at any time? As physicians, we need to be empathetic and spend time with our patients, but at the end of the day, we are not therapists. We are there to assess health problems, help fix health problems, and give guidance/education as to how to avoid health problems in the future. I’m afraid to work in a world someday, where the art and skill of practicing medicine is squelched my demanding, threatening, and deliquent patients. Its like children running the house.

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    • Kate, thanks for commenting. Sorry to have disappointed you with the disclosure that the rating site was fictitious. I agree that patients need to take more responsibility for their own health.

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    • Yes, that’s a funny clip. Thanks.

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  9. Hi
    I loved this article. I am a nurse in the Toronto area and am also tired of patients who never comply with anything their doctors tell them yet keep coming back with the same complaint. People need to be accountable for their own health starting today. Our healthcare system is not a catch all for people who abuse their bodies and then expect to be fixed immediately by our healthcare system.

    Reply
    • “People need to be accountable for their own health starting today.” Very well said.

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    • You realize the post is satirical right? Man you people are disgusting…

      Reply

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