How would some healthcare professionals respond to online bashing

Last March 1, 2014 edition of #HealthXPh‘s  tweet chat and Hangout On Air,  we discussed online bashing.  Let me summarize what transpired in that discussion.

T1 : If a patient rants online about you as a healthcare professional, how should you respond?

[quote style=”boxed” float=”none”]@DocWillieOng  T1: If HCP is not at fault, then no answer is needed. If HCP may be at fault, then HCP can explain in private message[/quote]

If the rant identifies or tags the HCP online, the HCP should politely respond to the rant via a private message, asking the ranter the specifics about his complains.

[quote style=”boxed”]@endocrine_witch : Yes but if it was serious libel I might respond with a solicitors’ remove, cease & desist letter.[/quote]

Or if the ranter keeps on repeating the rant, he or she can be sued by the HCP. Otherwise, if the gravity of the rant isn’t “damaging” most HCPs tweeted they will “take it on a stride”.  One interesting tweet from a patient was this:

[quote style=”boxed”] @TwiceDiabetes: Oh and the best defence is if OTHER PATIENTS defend you, just sayin..[/quote]

Which meant the best defender of an HCP from a patient ranting about him or her, online is another patient.

T2: If one HCP rants against another HCP, what do you do?

If one of the HCPs is close to me, I’ll contact him offline or in a private message. If none of them is “close” to me, I’ll try to find someone close to anyone of them.  Again, some HCPs will “take the rant on a stride” if the accusations are not true or the gravity of the rant isn’t that much.

[quote style=”boxed”] @DocWillieOng: T2: If HCP accusation not true, then no answer. If many believe HCP accuser, then response may be needed to protect reputation..[/quote]

Otherwise, there might be a need to call the attention of the HCPs involved, politely and offline, to sort things out amongst themselves, to protect the “reputation” of the profession.

[quote style=”boxed”]@endocrine_witch: T2 I would PM/DM the HCP ranting and ask him/her to talk directly to HCP concerned. to protect image of profession.[/quote]

[quote style=”boxed”]@phrheumajr: T2 More difficult if a colleague rants. Prob I’ll pvt message them to talk things over instead of resorting to #SoMe#HealthXPh [/quote]

[quote style=”boxed”]@DocWillieOng: T2: However, I find that “untrue” accusations easily spread in #SoMe. Government people are at a bind on how best to answer. #healthxph [/quote]

[quote style=”boxed”]@mikemuin: T2 Online bashing is best for ‘accused’ because it offers direct confrontation with ‘accuser’. These can be productive. #HealthXPh [/quote]

[quote style=”boxed”]#HealthXPh A rule of thumb I always take to heart: The Hippocratic Oath ALWAYS applies. Do no harm to your patient, nor to your colleague [/quote]

T3 If an HCP reads something unflattering in patient forum, not a rant but bad nonetheless. Should HCP confront?

This question is related to patient forums. Most forums are moderated and have forum rules.  Some HCPs would respond by bringing the “unflattering statements” to the moderator of the forum. The moderator then acts as a mediator. The owner of @mikemuin, recommend this.

[quote style=”boxed”] @mikemuin T3 : @endocrine_witch Yes, I think, if in a more controlled forum. Everyone should be allowed to confront their accusers. #HealthXPh [/quote]

Most HCP would recommend the same:

[quote style=”boxed”] @endocrine_witch: I guess the operative word there is “controlled.” Forum moderator becomes mediator. Do others learn from exchange?[/quote]

[quote style=”boxed”]@cebumd T3: In forums, ground rules will help minimize bashing since action regarding bashing are known beforehand. #HealthXPh [/quote]

An HCP would also respond if the statements are incorrect. 

[quote style=”boxed”] @phrheumajr T3 IMO if rants are incorrect then I would say my piece without sacrificing or hitting on pt’s reputation & reverse (moral res.) #HealthXPh [/quote]

In closing, most HCPs would agree we should respond to online bashers the way we respond to offline bashing- as a healthcare professional. That is responding politely, truthfully and with caution not just to protect the reputation of the profession, but also in “doing no harm to colleagues and patients as well”.

[quote style=”boxed”] @jimlopez875#HealthXPh Do no harm. To anyone, patient nor colleague.[/quote]

[quote style=”boxed”] @giasison: CT: We are responsible for how we present ourselves online. Proceed with caution. #HealthXPh [/quote]

[quote style=”boxed”] @DocWillieOng: CT: For me, best to turn the other cheek. Hopefully, the truth will come out. #healthxph [/quote]

[quote style=”boxed”] @endocrine_witch#HealthXPh CT Never say online to another what you cannot say to that person face to face.[/quote]

Thank you to the tweet chatters who joined the online conversation last Saturday March 1, 2014. See you again next saturday for another learning conversations on social media, emerging technology as it impacts the Philippine health landscape!

“Online Bashing: What would you do as a healthcare professional”, March 1, 2014 , accessed March 11, 2014

“Healthcare Social Media Transcripts at”  From Fri Feb 28 18:00:00 PST 2014 to Fri Feb 28 19:15:00 PST 2014, accessed March 11, 2014