Tag Archives: legal

Legal reporters’ coverage of medical funders prompts calls for regulatory action

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

GraphicStock

GraphicStock

It’s no secret that even insured patients sometimes are unable to cover the full cost of their care. When that happens, some people turn to medical funding companies for help. Physicians and other providers sometimes will even refer patients to these entities, which are set up to pay the provider and then collect from the patient.

There can be problems with this option, as journalists Alison Frankel and Jessica Dye learned last year in an investigation of unscrupulous medical funding companies. Continue reading

Threat of lawsuit prompts editor to dig into complainant’s past

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Ron Shinkman

Ron Shinkman

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to face a lawsuit over a story you’ve written, you’ll want to read how Ron Shinkman responded when a source threatened to sue.

The editor and publisher of Payers & Providers, a newsletter in Los Angeles, Shinkman got the phone call we all dread. On the line that day in March 2012 was Jeannette Martello, MD.., a plastic surgeon Shinkman had covered when the California Department of Managed Health Care enjoined her from balance billing her patients.

As Shinkman writes in a new How I did It, the article was a just-the-facts brief based on a report the insurance regulator issued. Continue reading

Doctors rebel against online patient reviews

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Associated Press Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner reports that almost 2,000 doctors have signed up for a service providing waivers barring patients who sign them from posting on online doctor-rating sites like Angie’s List and RateMDs.com.

North Carolina neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Segal’s firm, Medical Justice, gives paying doctors waiver forms to give patients and alerts them when a review appears online. Medical Justice allows doctors to use signed waiver forms to then have the offending comments removed, which he said had been done in “several instances.”

Some sites “are little more than tabloid journalism without much interest in constructively improving practices,” and their sniping comments can unfairly ruin a doctor’s reputation, Segal said.
Segal said such postings say nothing about what should really matter to patients — a doctor’s medical skills — and privacy laws and medical ethics prevent leave doctors powerless to do anything it.

According to Tanner, the co-founder of RateMDs.com said he refuses to take comments down when confronted with a signed waiver. Northwestern University Internet law specialist and attorney Jim Speta questioned the effectiveness of such waivers, Tanner said.

“Courts might say the balance of power between doctors and patients is very uneven” and that patients should be able to give feedback on their doctors’ performance, Speta said.