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Censorship Medicine Your Rights Online

Doctors Silencing Online Patient Reviews Via Contract 324

Posted by timothy
from the that's-one-view-of-the-1st-amendment dept.
Condiment writes "Next time you're sick, take five and actually read the pile of contracts your doctor dumps on your lap, because it's becoming more and more likely that your doctors are banning patients from posting reviews on the Web. You heard that right: as a prerequisite to receiving medical care, patients are in many cases required to sign away their First Amendment rights!"
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Doctors Silencing Online Patient Reviews Via Contract

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  • First Amendment (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jon_Hanson (779123) <jon@the-hansons-az.net> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:05PM (#27083353)
    The First Amendment doesn't cover speech between two private parties. It covers speech that the government may not oppress. Please stop claiming First Amendment rights when the government is not involved.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:08PM (#27083421) Homepage Journal

    The First Amendment protects your rights versus Government, not in contracts with others.

    Get it right.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:11PM (#27083467)
    When I see something I don't like in those types of documments, I simply mark through it and initial. Don't know if it would hold up, but it's better than nothing. I've never had anyone say anything - probably because *they* don't read them afterward, which, of course, is not my problem ...
  • Re:non-issue (Score:2, Informative)

    by Em Emalb (452530) <.ememalb. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:13PM (#27083497) Homepage Journal

    yes, you're correct. However, it is a censuring of a "right" in that if I go to a doctor and receive treatment and don't like the treatment...I should by the inherent right of our freedoms be able to post my opinion about it.

    This is lame. I'm so tired of hearing/reading about crap like this, it just frustrates me. How dare I voice a negative opinion about some stupid doctor's office? Please.

    There outta be a law....:D

  • Non-issue (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:17PM (#27083569)

    Inalienable means âoeunable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor.â

  • Re:non-issue (Score:5, Informative)

    by fm6 (162816) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:23PM (#27083661) Homepage Journal

    The government can't ban free speech. (In theory, anyway.) Private individuals have more latitude.

    I once lost a job after disagreeing with a political rant a customer was making. (I thought I was polite and respectful; the customer disagreed.) Abridgment of my free speech rights! But no, two different lawyers assured me that employer was well within his rights in regulating workplace discourse.

     

  • by SoundGuyNoise (864550) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:24PM (#27083677) Homepage
    IANAL....No matter how many forms you sign, you are legally protected from ever waiving your right to sue. Putting in a "no sue" clause is merely a formality that you recognize the seriousness of what you are about to do.

    I have a company where my participants have to sign a release form. It's really more for our liability insurance. I'll even tell them they can't sign away the right to sue.
  • by EWAdams (953502) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:37PM (#27083887) Homepage

    I live in the UK, where I have no need of a contract with my doctor. I turn up, he treats me, I go away without signing a contract or paying a penny. I can say anything I like about him as long as it's not defamatory.

  • Re:First Amendment (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @06:41PM (#27083949)

    Courts enforce contracts, not the government.

    The courts are one of the three arms of government , you imbecile. (N.B. That wasn't flamebait, it was a flame, plus he deserved it.)

  • by Stealth Dave (189726) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @07:00PM (#27084231) Homepage

    This is why the movie Sicko! was so popular and why the idea of health care reform is becoming more and more popular, despite attempts to categorically dismiss it as a "socialist" idea. People have enough problems getting proper medical care without having to worry about whether your doctor is going to require you sign away your rights in order to get treatment.

    On one occasion when going to see a specialist for the first time, I was presented with the usual stack of paperwork before I was allowed to see the doctor. Luckily, I have an annoying habit of reading a document before I sign it, as one of the documents was (as another reader has described) an agreement to waive my right to sue for malpractice, and to instead agree to arbitration of their choosing. I signed the other documents and told the receptionist that I would need to have my lawyer look over the waiver before I would sign it, and she responded "Oh, okay. Just bring it in whenever; it's optional, anyway." Optional? Then why was it buried in this stack of required paperwork?!? (Yes, that question is rhetorical.) Needless to say, I opted not to sign it, and I got to see the doctor anyway.

    This is the last thing that the health care industry needs right now as it battles a PR campaign against movies like Sicko! and all the various "investigative reporters" for everyone from your local news to CNN. My wife and I even made our own short film [funnyordie.com] about it. (Go ahead; mod me a Troll, I don't care.)

    - Dave

  • Re:First Amendment (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @07:35PM (#27084739)

    No contract would be worth the paper it's printed on if not for the government. If a party breaches a contract and then continually ignores orders to compensate for damages, it is ultimately armed government agents that will compel the party to comply under threat of force.

    All contracts involve the government.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @07:58PM (#27085017) Journal

    You're kidding, right? Mandatory binding arbitration clauses are struck down frequently. If both parties have comparable negotiating power, they are generally upheld, but that's the exception, not the rule, from what I've seen. The 9th circuit has been striking them down left and right. Even in the 6th circuit, for disagreements not stemming out of the terms of the contract itself, such clauses have been thrown out recently.

    I'm not saying you can blow your nose on the binding arbitration clause, but it is a lot closer to the way a waiver of liability doesn't necessarily protect against claims of gross negligence, but rather tries to convince the injured party that they don't have a case so that they don't contact a lawyer in the first place. In other words, it's mostly a smoke screen more often than not, at least in the 9th Circuit. Your circuit may vary.

  • by EWAdams (953502) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:20PM (#27085293) Homepage

    With my old HMO I was lucky to see her the same WEEK. The last time I asked for a physical in the US I was given an appointment six months in the future.

  • by Eil (82413) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:43PM (#27085581) Homepage Journal

    IANAL....No matter how many forms you sign, you are legally protected from ever waiving your right to sue.

    Bzzt. You can effectively sign away your right to sue and many people do, routinely, without realizing it. (The most common are cell phone, cable, and other service contracts.) The culprit is called a mandatory binding arbitration clause [consumerist.com] and when you try to sue the company, the court will require you submit to arbitration since that's what you and the other party agreed upon when you signed the contract.

    Now, arbitration doesn't really sound all that bad, does it? It's just like court only less expensive and with fewer gavels, right? Well, yes. For the company you're in a dispute with. The average person would still need a lawyer to properly interpret the terms of the contract (let alone contract law itself). Oh and by the way, the company gets to pick the arbitration firm. And they get to decide where the arbitration is held. And if by some chance you can make it the arbitration location with lawyer in tow and make a convincing case, you still only have about a 5% chance of the arbitration firm ruling in your favor [consumerist.com].

    Okay, so appeal the arbiter's decision in court, right? Nice try, but unless you somehow got permission to record the arbitration proceedings (unlikely, since companies try to keep arbitrations strictly non-public), you've got no evidence to make a case with. And in any event, courts have historically said, "sorry buddy, you agreed to an arbitration in the contract so now you're stuck with it."

    Arbitration clauses are another thing that need to be outlawed, IMO.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:51PM (#27085667)

    I have been denied medical service many times in California for refusing to sign a waiver of my constitutional rights. One office manager threatened to call their security to escort me from their premises if I did not leave.

    I now call the doctor's office before I show up to determine if signing a waiver is necessary for treatment.

    These were all Blue Cross PPO doctors and clinics. I could provide a list of the doctors and clinics that refused to treat me, should anyone be interested.

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