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Protecting your reputation - dealing with negative online reviews

04 September 2019

A dentist provided functional orthodontic treatment for a ten-year-old patient.

The treatment did not get off to a good start due to the patient failing to fully comply with advice and instructions on the requirement to wear the appliance. The child’s mother wished to discontinue treatment so she could seek care elsewhere for her child, in the hope they would have better success. The dentist thought he had resolved the situation amicably by providing a copy of the records to facilitate on-going care and a full refund of fees.

The patient attended another practitioner and it became apparent that the patient’s mother had posted a Google review about the first dentist, alleging he was a terrible dentist; that he caused harm to her and her son; that his motivation was financial.

As well as the defamatory comments published on this Google review, the patient’s mother also sent a number of threatening emails to the dentist.

The dentist worked in a small, close-knit-community, and news of these harmful, negative reviews spread quickly and started to have an impact on the popularity of the practice.

Shortly after the dentist contacted Dental Protection, an attorney was instructed to assist. They prepared a strongly worded letter to the mother to ‘cease and desist’ her actions, consequent to which the reviews were removed and the persistent, threatening emails ceased.

Learning points

  • Dental Protection is here to support you, and because we have the legal resources on hand to support members when it matters most, we can act quickly to advise and protect your professional reputation.
  • Practices should remain vigilant and monitor any comments on websites and social media platforms and seek advice if they have the potential to damage the professional reputation of the practice.
  • If you receive a request for clinical records, be aware of any latent and underlying concerns and try and resolve these within the practice. This is an example of risk containment.
  • Whilst a refund of fees can be enough to prevent the escalation of a complaint, be aware that patients can seek redress in other ways, such as highlighting their unaddressed concerns on feedback platforms used by practice websites and other social media channels.

These case studies are based on real events and provided here as guidance. They do not constitute legal advice but are published to help members better understand how they might deal with certain situations. This is just one of the many benefits Dental Protection members enjoy as part of their subscription. 
For more detailed advice on any issues, contact us