Physician’s Conduct Is Reviewed Following Rampant Social Media Complaints


Social Media ExpertThis case involves a dermatologist who was employed as a high-risk physician at a major university hospital in Chicago. The dermatologist was implicated in a severe instance of medical negligence concerning the delayed diagnosis of advanced melanoma resulting in a patient’s eventual death. Various social media platforms and online review websites were rife with reports from former patients regarding the physician’s conduct, lack of bedside manner, and poor communication. Based on the plethora of negative feedback online, the hospital administrator in charge of overseeing the dermatologist in question issued an in-house review of the employee’s conduct to determine whether the dermatologist required any retraining. An expert was sought to opine on how hospitals recruit high-risk physicians and to address whether or not a physician’s reputation and feedback from patients would be cause for in-house review.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Beyond medical acumen, what factors do you consider when filling positions for high-risk physicians?
  • 2. What importance does patient feedback have in your decision to hire, promote, cite or retrain physicians?
  • 3. Are social media platforms a tool you use when making such decisions?

Expert Witness Response E-168632

For any physician, I would look at their communication skills because this is a top concern for patient safety, medical errors and ultimately, the number one reason (by far) for lawsuits. Teamwork and concern for the quality of care are also important indicators of future performance. Once a physician is credentialed and privileged (whether employed or not), I continually monitor their performance in these areas along with patient outcomes to assess their continued competency. Patient feedback and their satisfaction with the care they receive is important in the assessment of a physician’s skills and competency. Most feedback is generated after they are already working at the hospital, but social media is empowering for patients because they now have a platform to share their experiences, or to research physicians they are considering choosing. Hospitals should be leveraging this freely available information as they consider candidates. whether an employee, contractor or independent members of the medical staff. I have written on multiple aspects related to the case.

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