The most costly dental marketing mistake could be threatening to sue your dental patients. And once again, a dentist is making front-page news with her challenge against a negative dental review on Yelp.
ABC News is reporting that Stacy Makhnevich, DDS, threatened to sue dental patient Robert Allen Lee for posting critical comments about Dr. Makhnevich on Yelp and DoctorBase.
According to ABC News the problem began in 2010, when Robert Lee went into Dr. Makhnevich’s office for a scheduled dentist’s appointment. Lee claims he was in excruciating pain when he was told he had to sign a ‘Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy‘ form, before being treated. The privacy form required that Lee agree not to publish any commentary or write anything disparaging about his experience online.
Lee further states that although he was hesitant to sign this form, he was desperate to receive treatment and gave in to agreeing to sign the form.
Lee became unhappy when there was a mishap with billing his insurance company and he couldn’t get Dr. Makhnevich’s office to rectify the situation to his satisfaction, Lee wrote negative reviews about Dr. Makhnevich and her practice on Yelp and DoctorBase.
Both ABC News and Public Citizen are reporting that Makhnevich sent a letter to Lee demanding that he delete the negative posts, warning him that he violated the agreement he signed and threatened to sue him for breach of contract. Dr. Makhnevich also contacted the review sites and asked for Lee’s negative comments to be removed.
Both Yelp.com and DoctorBase refused to take down the negative reviews, but Makhneich reportedly claimed that a copyright clause gave her ownership of the negative comments. She then went on to send Lee an invoice for $100 for each day the negative remarks remained online.
Lee has now taken legal action against the doctor by filing a lawsuit in the US District Court of the Southern District of New York, accusing Stacy Makhnevich, DDS, of violating his rights as a patient by threatening him with a lawsuit for posting negative comments online.
As we have reported here on The Wealthy Dentist in the past, dentists have not been successful in court when suing patients directly for their negative online reviews. Recently in California a dentist who sued a patient now has to pay $80,000 in legal fees, not just to the patient who posted the review, but also to Yelp itself.
In the article, Dental Marketing: A Guide for Avoiding Negative Online Reviews, The Wealthy Dentist has offered dentists advice on how to handle a negative online review — and threatening to sue the patient was not listed as a viable dental marketing option.
What are your thoughts on negative online reviews and the sites that allow them?
For more on this story see: Dentist Threatens to Sue Patient for Negative Yelp Review and Doc Sued Over Attempts to Prohibit Patients From Writing Online Reviews.