Mar 312022
 March 31, 2022  Posted by  Breaches, Healthcare, U.S.

Joseph Lazzarotti of JacksonLewis writes:

It can be cathartic responding to a negative online review. It can also backfire, as can failing to cooperate with an OCR investigation as required under HIPAA.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced four enforcement actions, one against a small dental practice that imposed a $50,000 civil monetary penalty under HIPAA. The OCR alleged the dentist impermissibly disclosed a patient’s protected health information (PHI) when the dentist responded to a patient’s negative online review. According to the OCR, the dentist’s response to the patient read:

It’s so fascinating to see [Complainant’s full name] make unsubstantiated accusations when he only came to my practice on two occasions since October 2013. He never came for his scheduled appointments as his treatment plans submitted to his insurance company were approved. He last came to my office on March 2014 as an emergency patient due to excruciating pain he was experiencing from the lower left quadrant. He was given a second referral for a root canal treatment to be performed by my endodontist colleague. Is that a bad experience? Only from someone hallucinating. When people want to express their ignorance, you don’t have to do anything, just let them talk. He never came back for his scheduled appointment Does he deserve any rating as a patient? Not even one star. I never performed any procedure on this disgruntled patient other than oral examinations. From the foregoing, it’s obvious that [Complainant’s full name] level of intelligence is in question and he should continue with his manual work and not expose himself to ridicule. Making derogatory statements will not enhance your reputation in this era [Complainant’s full name]. Get a life.

Read more at Workplace Privacy, Data Management & Security Report.

This is not the first time a HIPAA-covered entity has been fined for responding to a patient’s negative review or public statements.


  One Response to ““Get a Life” – Another Dentist Responds to Patient’s Online Review, This Time Faces a $50,000 OCR Penalty”

  1. Although what the dentist did was absolutely wrong (releasing patient info???), s/he elicits much of my sympathy.

    Today, we live in a “ratings” purgatory where every crank can get away with libeling some service provider, from restaurateurs to professionals, for a perceived failure to grovel sufficiently to their insane demands.

    It is also abused by cowards who are too spineless to try solving a problem through old fashioned dialogue but then feel no shame in very publicly slagging the other party whom they didn’t have the guts to deal with privately.

    I’m not saying that all reviewers do this. Most don’t. But it’s a real problem for which “ratings” platforms take no responsibility. People’s reputations and livelihoods can be destroyed while the platform sucks dry all the dead bodies left lying behind.

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