12.01.11, 05:33 AM #1
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Dentist Threatens to Sue Patient for Negative Yelp Review
Robert Lee went into Dr. Stacy Makhnevich’s New York dentist office for a sore tooth, but the year that followed turned into what one Public Citizen senior lawyer called an “unconscionable practice.”
The controversy began in 2010, when Lee went into Makhnevich’s office for a scheduled dentist’s appointment. Bleary from pain, Lee claimed he was told he had to sign several papers, including a “Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy,” before being treated. The form required Lee to agree not to publish any commentary or write anything disparaging about his experience with Makhnevich.
While Lee said he was hesitant to sign such a form, he claimed he was in severe pain and, therefore, gave in to the requirements.
Lee received a bill for $4,766 for the dental work, according to Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization. Lee reportedly asked the dentist to send the necessary paperwork to his insurance company, but she sent it to the wrong company. When he asked for the forms to submit them himself, Makhnevich’s office apparently refused to hand them over and referred him to a third party that required five percent of the total bill for its services.
Fed up, Lee wrote negative reviews about Makhnevich and her practice on Yelp and DoctorBase.
Lee then received a letter from the dentist demanding that he delete the post, warning him that he violated the agreement and threatening to sue for breach of contract. Makhnevich also reached out to both websites, asking for Lee’s comments to be removed, according to Public Citizen.
The sites refused to take down the negative reviews, but Makhneich reportedly claimed that a copyright clause gave her ownership of the harsh words. She then sent Lee an invoice for $100 for each day the criticism remained online.
Makhnevich did not immediately return requests for comment.
“We are now seeking a declaratory judgment from the judge to show that my client was not doing anything wrong,” said Paul Levy, Lee’s lawyer, a senior attorney at Public Citizen. “Doctors and dentists are expected to behave in an ethical manner, and to impose this sort of requirement on people who are having emergencies is unethical.”
The suit argues that the forms that Lee signed should be deemed null and void.
“Facing criticism comes with the turf of these jobs,” Levy said. “If they defame you, then that’s something else. A doctor can sue for that.”
A North Carolina company known as Medical Justice sells the agreement forms to health care providers. The company claims about 3,000 doctors and dentists use the forms, according to Public Citizen.
In response to the lawsuit Public Citizen filed Tuesday night, Medical Justice spokespeople announced the company would stop recommending medical professionals have patients sign such forms, Public Citizen announced.
“This is a form of bullying, and it’s absurd that this could possibly be an enforceable contract,” said Arthur Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. ”It infringes upon free speech and you can’t just have that waived away on a silence contract.”
While Caplan acknowledged that doctors or dentists can indeed get “bum raps” from bad write-ups online, “someone who is put off by one negative review isn’t a patient you’d want anyway. If there’s a pattern of bad reviews, that’s a different story.”
“This doctor is overreacting and attempting to muzzle patients,” added Caplan. “It is not a desirable reaction at all.”
Review By: Bob
August 24, 2011 "Avoid at all cost! Scamming their customers! Overcharged me by about $4000 for what should have been only a couple hundred dollar procedure. Refuses to submit the claim to my insurance company. When asked for records to submit the claim myself they referred me to a 3rd party that wants 5% of the bill ($268) to get the records for me. By law the dentist must give me the records within 10 days of written request at a cost of no more than 75 cents per page. Lawsuit to be filed soon."
Helpful (3) Unverified, posted on 08-24-2011
Dr. Joseph Cohen said:
"Due to the contractual privacy and confidentiality infringement agreements, we are not able to directly respond to the above concerns. Though "Defamation, Slander and Libel" is evident in consideration of "scamming" comments posted by the disgruntle patient, please adhere to the regulations below: 1. Our dental practice is an exclusive practice located at the penthouse of the Chrysler Building. We provide concierge and VIP services. All fees are negotiated prior to rendering of all services. If any of the fee concerns arise, patients have an opportunity to seek care at a different practice in the area including regular community clinics and hospital dental departments that provide care at a fraction of costs established. 2. We are not able to provide any records to patient's parents if a patient is over the age of 21 regardless of parent's numerous requests. 3. If a patient is responsible for any unpaid portion of his bill as outlined in the financial policies, his invoice is not and won't be marked paid in full for insurance submission. Patients are responsible for checking their own benefits with their employer for benefits determination. Patient with the same insurance company may have different benefits depending on their group numbers and benefits that were selected by their employers directly. 4. Financial agreements and contracts are signed prior to services being rendered for the transparency of the patient's accounts. 5. In accordance with ADA Dental records (2007), "The dental record, also referred to as the patient's chart...No financial information should be kept in the dental record". There is no time frame established for the duplications of financial records. 6. If you require medical records, a duplication fee of $50-75 for radiographic images and $35-75 for models casts are allowed and within the established guidelines plus shipping fees. All duplications take approximately 14 business days in addition to shipping and handling after receipt of the payment. 7. If you have moved, you are responsible to update your file and your patient's registration document. We are not responsible for any lost and mishandled mail due to inaccurate reporting. 8. Patients are contacted directly via official mail in response to all requests including "defamation, slander and libel" which is handled by our legal experts separately. We are able and willing to produce all records including contracts, financial contracts, records, intraoral imaging and security camera footage to prove that all claims are meritless and frivolous. Diana, assistant manager"
Others love the office...
http://www.doctoroogle.com/201034-ne...acy-makhnevich"Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton
12.01.11, 06:50 AM #2
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I had a similar situation decades ago. I ruptured a disk in my back and had to go thru months of tests, treatment, physical therapy and ultimately surgery
The hospital kept sending the bills too Workers Comp......although it was a work related injury, I never told them that....because they never asked. So the bills go unpaid, they start sending them to me and I start calling them, the insurance company the individual providers etc.
They never send them to the insurance company ...so what do they do? they report it to the credit agencies RUINING my credit! charges totaled over 50K and I was 22 years old ...how was I going to get a hold of that kind of money?
so I lawyer up and the hospital says they can no longer find the records, yada yada yada lots of phone calls and letters and personal visits to the hospital by both me and the lawyer.. then they finally find copies of the records that are illegible and send them to the attorney...but the insurance co says they need clean copies and deadlines are approaching after which they cannot accept claims
deadlines pass with nothing from the hospital...until they sue me!
In court they claim I was happy to accept their treatment when I was in pain, but now in the cold hard light of day, I was well again and unwilling to pay for the services that made me so.
Judge looks over the record that we have provided and asks attorneys to step into his chamber...where he RIPPED the hospital counsel a new asshole . I could hear him out side the court room. Basically yelled at them to eat the charges, that yes, the hospital forms said that they submit to insurance as a courtesy but that ultimately the patient was responsible for charge BUT they had misfiled the claim then prevented me or my lawyer from being able to take responsibility by submitting to insurance on deadline and becuase I had been turned down for a car loan and a student loan based upon them ruining my credit I had cause for a counter suit in excess of the attorneys fees I was asking for.
Judge said if this was how badly they kept their billing records how bad were their medical records? and god save anyone who put themselves into their care
I walked away with a credit report cleared, charges wiped out, attorneys fee paid and a little shut up money to boot.
if there had been twitter and facebook and all the other social media back then, it probably would not have gone to court because that hospital would not have wanted to look so foolish and untrustworthy to the public
and I would have been all over the webiverse telling everyone my
Social media does have it's place
12.01.11, 10:18 AM #3
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The problem with pages like Yelp is that they are anonymous. Now you have the problem of competitors posting false adverse opinions etc.
I don't have an answer, but it is a problem.Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.
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