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UK Program Would Ask Patients to Rate Doctors

Saturday, July 11, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: doctors, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) The United Kingdom's Royal College of General Practitioners is launching a program to incorporate patient reviews into the once-every-five-years professional assessment that all general practitioners (GPs) in the country must go through.

In order to retain their license to practice general medicine, all GPs will have to hand in two separate surveys in which patients rate their doctors on qualities including whether they are good listeners and how personalized their care was.

Previous attempts to institute patient reviews of doctors have met with serious resistance from the medical community. In the United States, some doctors have reacted to the growing popularity of ratings sites like Angie's List and RateMD by having patients sign waivers promising not to post any comments on the Internet about the quality of the service they receive. In the United Kingdom, the doctor rating forum www.iwantgreatcare.org, resulted in founder Dr. Neil Bacon getting a letter from lawyers warning of "grave concerns about the potential for inaccurate, irresponsible and defamatory allegations."

The British system, however, is designed to prevent against unfair defamation. All comments will be reviewed by a professional committee as part of a doctor's recertification process.

"Granted, it will be a license for nutters and people with too much time on their hands to have their say," said Telegraph columnist Melanie McDonagh. "But if enough people do it, if every patient gets to fill in the questionnaire, then the mass of fairly decent individuals should cancel out the rest."

Doctors have also expressed concern that patients might rate doctors less on the quality of medical care received and more on their demeanor.

"Perhaps so, but it does matter how you're treated," McDonagh said.

McDonagh also notes that the British system already allows patients to rate hospitals, "while in universities, students can rate lectures, which hasn't been a deterrent for decent academics."

A petition to investigate the possibility of implementing a similar system in the United States can be found at www.healthrevolutionpetition.org.

Sources for this story include: www.telegraph.co.uk.

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