Dishonest Physician Reviews: Challenging Physician Online Reviews and the Appeals Process

J Med Syst. 2023 Dec 21;48(1):5. doi: 10.1007/s10916-023-02022-2.


Physician reviews influence how patients seek care, but dishonest reviews can be detrimental to a physician practice. It is unclear if reviews can be challenged, and processes differ and are not readily apparent. The objective of this observational study was to determine the ability to challenge dishonest negative reviews online. Commonly used websites for physician reviews as of August 2021 were utilized: Healthgrades, Vitals, RateMDs, Zocdoc, Yelp, and Google Business. Each review platform's website was tested for leaving a physician review and process of appeal and possible removal of a negative review. The process for appeal and the steps involved in posting and appealing a review were determined, whether individuals are verified patients and criteria for verification, how physicians can respond, and the process of appealing false or defamatory reviews.Any individual can leave reviews by searching for a physician's name or practice and visiting their profile page and can then provide a rating and written review of their experience with the physician. Many require verification to prevent suspicious activity but not proof of a medical visit, allowing significant potential for inaccurate review postings. Posting a review can be done by anyone without verification of a visit. It is challenging for physicians to remove negative online reviews, as most review platforms have strict policies against. This review concludes that physicians should be aware of their online presence and the steps that can be taken to address issues to mitigate adverse effects on their practices.

Keywords: Negative reviews; Patient satisfaction; Physician reviews.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Commerce
  • Defamation
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Physicians*
  • Social Media*