Hitting a Nerve

Don’t be bullied by patients threatening bad reviews


“I’m giving you a bad review on Yelp over this.”

He said that, and I honestly didn’t care.

When he called for the appointment, he told my staff he was on a PPO plan that I’m contracted with. But when he came in 2 weeks later, he had a completely different card: an HMO that I’ve never been affiliated with.

A person looks at a doctor rating website on a tablet computer. Thinkstock/image altered
Not surprisingly, he didn’t see how this was his fault. He told me that my staff, if they were competent, should have reverified his insurance coverage when we made the reminder call. (I don’t know any offices that do such a thing.)

I’m an adult neurologist, and don’t see anyone under 18. If you’re an adult, you need to start taking responsibility for your actions. One of them should be knowing what your medical insurance is. This is your job. Not ours. When you tell us what your insurance is, we take you at your word.

But I’m here to help people, and he said he really needed to see me. So I offered to see him at my cash discount rate.

He said no.

I then said I’d see him, and bill it to his insurance to see if they paid anything, and we could work out what he still might owe after that. I was genuinely trying to help him.

Not surprisingly, he again said no.

Then he made me this counteroffer: See me for free, and I won’t post a negative online review about you.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

No. I am here to help you. I will not be bullied into doing so. I also can’t see people for free. Heaven knows, any of us who take hospital call do enough of that as is. I have rent, staff salaries, and my kids’ education expenses. I’m pretty sure the bank that holds my mortgage wouldn’t forgive a missed payment if I threatened to write a bad Yelp review about them.

Predictably, he left. And wrote the review on a rate-a-doc site.

Does the bad review bother me? Not at all. The nature of medicine is such that you can’t please everyone. And those you do please likely won’t write a review.

I come here each day to do my best to help people. Threatening me to start a medical relationship will find you going nowhere.

And taking responsibility for your own actions, like I tell my kids, is a big part of being a grownup.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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