A New York Gynecologist Is Suing a Former Patient for Leaving a Bad Review Online
A gynecologist in New York is suing a former patient for defamation after she posted negative reviews of him online.
Michelle Levine posted that Dr. Joon Song had “very poor and crooked business practice” on Yelp during summer 2017, according to court documents. Reviews of the same nature were also posted on ZocDoc, HealthGrades and other websites.
In the Yelp review, Levine said she went to see Song for an annual checkup, which is covered by her insurance but was charged almost $500 because it was billed as a “normal visit.”
When she called the doctor’s office, New York Robotic Gynecology & Women’s Health, Levine said she was told she had been seen for pelvic pain. Levine denied this in the review and said it was for an annual checkup.
“I suspect that this doctor gives unnecessary procedure to a lot of people and then charges the insurance sky high prices and no one knows the difference,” she wrote in the review, which is now deleted but in court documents.
Song’s lawyers stated that her first review is fabricated and a reasonable person who saw the review would read it as fact, not opinion.
According to Song’s lawyers, Levine complained of “acute and worrisome symptoms, which required additional medical evaluation — not simply an ‘annual checkup.'”
Levine also stated in the review she was given blood test results that led her to believe she had a “lifelong disease” over the phone. A medical assistant in Song’s office testified that she told Levine over the phone that her test results indicated an “abnormality” and she should talk to Song about the findings.
Court documents state that Levine’s reviews have caused harm to Song’s reputation and business, so Song’s lawyers are seeking at least $1 million in damages.
Song has varying reviews online. His average is 4.5 stars out of 5 on ZocDoc, but on RateMDs his review average is at 2 stars. Positive reviews stated Song was knowledgeable, professional, and he, as well as his staff, was friendly. People who left negative reviews said he was unprofessional and made them feel uncomfortable.
There is one review from another person that stated Song put down they had pelvic pain when they told him they did not and gave them additional tests they did not request. This review shows up on multiple review sites, including RateMDs and Vitals. A trial is scheduled for June 21.
This isn’t the first time doctors and patients have fought over reviews published online. An investigation published by The Washington Post and ProPublica in 2016, showed that some doctors respond to negative reviews they receive, and by doing so illegally reveal sensitive medical information online.
Thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), an act designed to keep all medical information private, even if you leave a negative review online, your doctor can’t respond with any information about your health. HIPPA, however, can’t keep doctors from suing you if you leave a bad review.
Photo via Sergey Tinyakov and ZyMOS