Is Yelp Contributing To Opiate Drug Addiction?
I recently came across this article by Jonathan Kaplan, and it struck a chord with me. The Yelp review is something that doctors have become accustomed to in recent years, but not always by choice. While Yelp can be a great way for patients to find new doctors, it also poses a lot of problems for the medical community. The care of a doctor is very different from the service you might get at a restaurant, so why would you review the two using the same system? It is much more difficult for patients to review their health care objectively. Their opinions are often based on their emotions and the pain they are feeling. In his article, Kaplan suggests that Yelp reviews might be contributing the opioid crisis in America. A patient in a great deal of discomfort may ask for more pain killers. Their doctor is trained to know the proper dosage to give them, and will often deny them anything more than what is necessary. However, more recently, patients who do not feel their pain has been sufficiently addressed have taken to Yelp to voice their anger. A bad Yelp review can really make things difficult on a practice, so more and more often, doctors find themselves giving in to these requests in order to avoid the negative reviews. I can’t count how many doctors, not just plastic surgeons, who been held hostage by their misguided patients threatening to post misleading if not blatantly false reviews if they do not get what they want. Consequently, these online reviews can be inherently biased, arising from personal agendas and not from impartial reporting of facts. It’s not hard to imagine how this can also harm the unsuspecting public who, prompted by a malevolent post, may seek alternative treatment from a less qualified professional. This was unfortunately the case when my friends daughter was booked for a liver transplant for a congenital condition to be performed by one of the worlds preeminent liver transplant surgeons here in Los Angeles. After reading a negative online review, she canceled her surgery and ended up getting surgery elsewhere. Tragically her operation was bungled because of a negligent mismatch which resulted in her ultimate death. This could’ve been avoided if she did not read the deliberately misleading online review by the disgruntled patient (who I later came to find out was denied further Vicodin pain medication for her own good since it contains acetaminophen, a known tocsin to the liver). Like in any profession, doctors have patients that are wonderful and compliant, but they can also come across others that can be difficult to work with. The review of one difficult person should not affect an entire medical practice. Furthermore, the fear of negative reviews can not and should not lead doctors to over prescribe medication and put the health of their patients at risk.