Anxiety, Patient interactions

Nurse Practitioner Real Fears: Reputation Ruined


Coming to retrieve what is left of a reputation!

The Social Media Character Assassination

The first time I saw it, I foolishly underestimated its power.  A negative post about a provider on a social media page. Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence.  All the cool kids call it getting “dragged”, being publicly humiliated on a social media forum.

It all started innocently enough. One forum member was requesting a recommendation for a primary care provider. The first few replies were brief, positive mentions of local physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.


How can you steer through negative comments?

Then, the tide turned for the worse. A commenter posted “whatever you do, don’t see _________”.  He proceeded to describe how one of the above-mentioned providers had left his wife a physical and emotional wreck when she was misdiagnosed under their care.

Commenters suddenly tasted blood in the water.  People began to name other healthcare providers to avoid.  Posts began to contain words like “quack, scammer, greedy, and butcher”. Members of the community forum became torch-wielding mobs and the mentioned clinicians were monsters that needed to be run out-of-town.  Claims ranged from apathetic bedside manner, possible Medicare fraud to sexual harassment.


Social Media’s Role in Healthcare 

I doubt the damning posts were factual. But who cares about “facts” when a story is a juicy one right?  The posts were liked by many and got hundreds of responses within hours. Someone must have tipped off the providers or their offices, and damage control began. Within 24 hours the post and negative comments were deleted. Rightfully so, because disparaging comments on social media can be detrimental for providers.

More and more patients look toward reviews online when searching for a provider. In a 2012 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 41% of patients claim social media content impacts their choice of hospital or physician. Of young adults aged 18 to 24, more than 80 percent of respondents are likely to share health information through social media.  If I had a dime for every time a patient told me they online searched me or another provider, well…I would probably only have about 3 dollars of dimes… but I suspect many others do this and do not say anything.

So what do you do if someone posts a fake or negative review regarding you?  Most of these situations can be handled by reporting the post to the social media platform and briefly explain that the comments are fictitious or misleading.  Avoid personally engaging in an online argument with negative commenters.  It will probably make you look a little crazy and give undue attention to the person posting.  Plus, Federal privacy laws outline that you cannot post comments that might compromise patient confidentiality.

More likely, these people are internet “trolls”, someone who post inflammatory comments with the purpose to incite an emotional response.  Gauge the situation,  if the comment is very minor, letting it go may be best. Block people if necessary. Online reputation management companies do exist for this reason and some offer an initial free consultation.

If it seems to be one or two specific patients and they continue to post despite numerous attempts from you to have them stop you may want to speak to your attorney.  In those situations, providers are fighting back. July 2018 USA TODAY published an article detailing how doctors and hospitals were suing former patients who posted negative reviews.  As any you are probably aware, being a nurse practitioner will definitely change some aspects of your private life.  However, no one has to deal with outright slander or defamation.



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