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Medical Justice Services Inc. Now Offers Online Anti-Defamation Service

2008-08-04 11:10:00

Medical Justice Services Inc. Now Offers Online Anti-Defamation Service

    GREENSBORO, N.C., Aug. 4 /EMWNews/ -- Medical Justice Services,

Inc., which has successfully helped physicians and dentists defend

themselves against meritless medical malpractice lawsuits for the past six

years, has introduced a new way for physicians and dentists to fight back

against defamation on the World Wide Web.

    The program, which prevents defamatory online postings about physicians

on doctor rating sites and blogs, solves a problem that's exploded in the

past year, according to Jeffrey Segal, M.D., founder and president of

Medical Justice Services.

    "In most circumstances in America, publishing something that's untrue

and defamatory about someone else can be solved by filing a libel or

slander lawsuit in civil court," said Dr. Segal. "But when a defamatory

message about a doctor is spread to thousands or millions of people with

the click of a mouse, physicians are generally left with no reliable


    That's because physicians and dentists can't sue a Web site that hosts

false and defamatory content about them, the way that they could sue a

newspaper or broadcast station. In 1996, Congress passed the Communication

Decency Act, immunizing Internet Service Providers from being sued for


    But Medical Justice has a solution that works. It uses patient-friendly

contract language to both prevent the posting of defamatory information

before it occurs -- and provide physicians with an appropriate way to put a

stop to it if it is posted online.

    The program is free to physicians who become Medical Justice members,

or is available separately for $495 for the first year and $350 each year


    Dr. Segal first developed the idea of using a contract to address

defamation, after Medical Justice used contract language to successfully

prevent its member physicians from being sued for frivolous reasons.

    With Medical Justice's anti-defamation program, patients sign a

contract of mutual privacy, in which they agree not to post anything on the

Internet about their doctor's care without their doctor's permission. In

return, the physician gives the patient additional privacy protections

beyond those mandated by federal law.

    Physician rating sites are regularly informed as to which physicians

have license to use the contract language -- and plans are in the works to

verify that those sites are not interfering with the pre-existing contracts

between doctors and patients.

    If an anonymous posting does appear, the site is informed of the

contract -- and warned that if the post remains, the site may incur


    Dr. Segal pointed out that while web sites can't be sued for

defamation, they have been successfully sued by companies who set out to

enforce prior confidentiality agreements with their now ex-employees.

Confidentiality agreements between doctors and patients would likely be

similarly successful.

    Does it violate a patient's First Amendment rights? No. The First

Amendment generally applies to government action. Here, the doctor and

patient are not state actors. The restrictions are minimal -- and patients

remain free to report inappropriate medical care or treatment to state

licensing boards, professional medical societies, third party payers,

friends, family, or other doctors. They can even file a malpractice


    Dr. Segal said that the intent is to ensure that the doctor-patient

relationship remains strong. This is best accomplished by strengthening

privacy protections for each party. Such protections have always been

important for patients. They are equally important for physicians.

    "In few other occupations is an individual's reputation more

important," said Dr. Segal. "A physician's most valuable asset, resulting

from the years of training and experience, is his or her reputation. It's

something that you can literally spend decades building and it can be

ruined in a few seconds with the click of a mouse."

    About Medical Justice Services Inc.: Run by physicians for physicians,

Medical Justice is a membership-based organization that offers proactive

services designed to deter proponents of frivolous medical malpractice

lawsuits, as well as a proven strategy for successful countersuit


    For more information, please visit our website at or telephone (336) 691-1286.

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Blake Masterson

Freelance Writer, Journalist and Father of 5

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