Some People Never Learn: The Physician Who Sued a Patient’s Son for Online Comments


flickr: GollyGforce

A four year legal battle over a patient’s right to make negative comments about a doctor in social media ended last week when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the comment was protected speech. We covered the case in an earlier blogpost.

The battle started when Dr. David McKee sued Dennis Laurion for calling him “a real tool” on physician rating sites after McKee treated Laurion’s father poorly during a hospital stay. “Referring to someone as ‘a real tool’ falls into the category of pure opinion because the term ‘real tool’ cannot be reasonably interpreted as stating a fact and it cannot be proven true or false,” wrote the court.

Laurion, who was forced to deplete his savings and borrow from relatives to pay for his defense, was not surprisingly relieved. Read more

How One Children’s Hospital Used Social Media to Deal with the Unthinkable


Last Friday, February 17, highly-respected Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, called a news conference to address the unthinkable.

A male nurse in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit had been charged with downloading and distributing child pornography.

Doernbecher did all the right things. They issued a news release, held a news conference, posted Frequently Asked Questions regarding the case on their website, set up a telephone hotline for anyone who had questions and mailed 10,000 letters to families whose children had been treated at the hospital during the time the nurse was employed. Read more

Navigating the Waters of HIPAA and Negativity in Social Media

Last week I spoke to the Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Association (HPRMA) of Southern California on “Navigating the Waters of HIPAA and Negativity in Social Media.”

Jeff Merkow, senior partner at The Identity Group, an advertising firm specializing in healthcare, extended the invitation and was a great host. We met at the beautiful Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach. Flying from Oregon, where it was raining buckets, into the 70+ degrees, blue-sky world of Southern California was quite the bonus. Read more

Can Social Media Save Your Hospital from Being Sued?

flickr: zzpza

There are many reasons to adopt social media tools for your hospital or healthcare clinic–patient engagement, patient support, positioning your centers of excellence, showcasing your medical staff’s expertise, highlighting new treatments among interested communities. Now there may be one more reason–helping your hospital avoid litigation.

That’s the focus of a recent paper by Michael Tristan Morales. In Social Media Campaigns as an Emerging Alternative to Litigation, Morales discusses the place of litigation and social media in society, and explores litigation’s effectiveness in securing relief for disaffected plaintiffs.

He also discusses social media as “a powerful weapon” for both groups and individuals to “vindicate particular interests.” His paper considers how social media might serve as an alternative to private litigation. Read more

Planning a Positive Response to Negative Comments in Social Media

When you launch a social media platform, sooner or later you’re going to get negative comments.

Rather than worry about them, I say welcome them. Negative comments can be a valuable source of useful information and provide a great opportunity to send a positive message.

But what about the fact that everyone can see them? Another plus. You get to share your positive response with everyone, and when they see you respond well to criticism, it increases their trust in you. In fact, in many cases followers and friends step in to offer a defense. Read more