Sunday, December 04, 2011

Dentist Threatens to Sue Patient for Negative Review

There are many websites where you can find reviews of doctors by patients. While some helpful information can be gained by perusing such sites, one has to be careful before drawing too many conclusions from the reviews. The reason is because it is human nature to take the time and energy to complain when upset as opposed to writing something positive when you are happy. Therefore, patients are more likely to post negative experiences on such websites, leaving a skewed set of results. Many doctors, particularly those in private practice, do not like these types of websites because one or more negative reviews can turn away business.

As a result, some doctors have resorted to having patients sign contracts to prevent them from publishing any commentary or writing anything disparaging about their experience with the doctor. One New York City dentist (Dr. Stacy Makhnevich) did just that recently and then threatened to sue a patient (Robert Lee) who wrote a negative review on a website about her. The patient stated that the dentist billed him $4766 after sending the necessary paperwork to the wrong insurance company and refusing to hand the forms over so he could submit them himself, instead referring him to a third party who charges 5% of the total bill for the service. For each day the negative review remained online line, $100 was allegedly charged to the patient from the dentist.

Now the patient is suing the dentist for forcing him to sign an agreement that violated free speech. Lee apparently felt forced because he reported severe pain that day and that he could not receive treatment unless the contract was signed. You can read more about the case here.

The case reminded me of a situation that happened to me once, which is why I never sign any contracts anymore that say I cannot complain about the service I received, no matter how complaining is defined. To make a long story short, I was moving from Oklahoma to Buffalo (a 24 hour trip) in 2003 and decided to ship one of my cars.  Almost every car carrier charged $1000.00 for the service. One company charged only $600.00. You just had to send in a non-refundable $200 deposit and sign a contract that you agree not to harass them with complaints. No problem, I figured, and so I sent in the check. Problem is that the person running this supposed car shipping company never picked up the cars and would make up a million excuses as to why. Customers would call and complain and after a few calls he would cancel the contract due to what he called “harassment.” He would pocket the $200.00 on everyone he did this to and make a significant amount of money. Eventually, he pulled this scam on an FBI agent and was caught, prosecuted by the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office, convicted, and sent to jail.

The moral of the story is not to sign contracts like this and to do some research on who you are spending your money with if a deal looks too good to be true. If all I would have done was a simple Google search, I would have found a national news story describing what he did to the FBI agent and never would have signed the contract and sent in the money. It was a life changing experience for me in terms of lessons learned and I share it here so some people don’t need to learn it the hard way.


  1. Yes, dentist must be careful of posting their patient reviews in net because it might cause the readers to get disappointed.

  2. I came to this dentist after recommendation from another dentist, whom i had been seeing for 10 years. I have found him very kind, knowledgeable, and compassionate.
    dentist Torrance


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