Examples of Defamation in Healthcare
Healthcare workers who post online can be liable for defamation lawsuits if they make a slanderous comment about another patient. While some comments are defamatory, others are just opinions. Defamation courts strive to separate fact from opinion in defamation lawsuits. Even simple comments about a doctor's appearance can lead to defamation. Therefore, healthcare workers should take care not to post such comments.
Defamation in healthcare typically involves a statement of fact that reflects badly on a doctor, hospital, or practice. In many cases, this will cause a physician or hospital to lose business. However, defamation of an opinion is not actionable unless it is made deliberately or maliciously. Opinions are protected as long as they cannot be read as statements of fact. Defamation in healthcare can be complicated. Personal Injury car accident attorneys
One case involved a Houston heart surgeon who won a lawsuit for a $6.4 million judgment against the hospital after a peer review process revealed allegations of sexual harassment against him. After a 21-month investigation, the hospital's peer review board voted to revoke Dr. S's privileges. The lawsuit alleged that the hospital and its staff retaliated by launching a "whisper campaign" to dissuade patients from following his former practice.
While the 18th century has had its share of defamation in the form of newspaper writings, the 21st century brought with it libel in social media. Social media allows people to write about anyone, even medical professionals. Thus, even a physician's criticizing his or her own practice can constitute libel. It can be difficult to file a lawsuit against someone who merely posts something online.
There are many examples of defamation in healthcare, but the most common include false statements posted online about a patient. For example, a nurse might post a message about a physician's poor performance or a patient's misdiagnosis. Even gossiping about other healthcare workers can be defamatory. Defamation in healthcare is a serious crime. So, if you or a family member has been harmed due to defamation, contact your local police or attorney immediately.
Although defamation in healthcare has historically not been considered a big problem, it has risen in recent years, mainly due to the widespread use of social media and the internet. Even a health professional's reputation can be destroyed by a colleague's malicious comments online. In addition, supervisors may write defamatory remarks in their reference letters. In addition to negative comments posted online, defamatory remarks can also occur in the form of false medical licenses. This is considered a form of healthcare fraud.
One case involved a nurse who quit after her supervisor published an unflattering restraining letter about her. The supervisor alleged that the nurse's mental health condition was a symptom of a psychotic episode and made her unfit for her new job. The nurse filed suit because she was unable to find another job and suffered material damage as a result. The lawsuit was successful, but the hospital ultimately ended up losing more money than it spent on the lawsuit.