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March 4, 2009

American doctors ask for internet gag order

HEALTH/TECHNOLOGY - Some doctors in the U.S. have started fighting back against ugly Internet reviews by asking patients to abide by what are effectively gag orders that bar them from posting negative comments online.

Physicians are taking legal action as online ratings services such as, RateMDs.com, Zagat's and Angie's List grow in popularity and expand their reviews beyond restaurants and plumbers to include medical care.

"Consumers and patients are hungry for good information" about doctors, but Internet reviews provide just the opposite, contends Dr. Jeffrey Segal, a North Carolina neurosurgeon who has made a business of helping doctors monitor and prevent online criticism.

The American Medical Association president Dr. Nancy Nielsen says that online doctor ratings sites "have many shortcomings." Online doctor reviews "should be taken with a grain of salt, and should certainly not be a patient's sole source of information when looking for a new physician," she says.

In other news...

AMERICANS NEED FREE HEALTH INSURANCE

POLITICS - A third of Americans under the age of 65 (86.7 million people) went without health insurance at some point during the past two years, according to a report released today by advocacy group Families USA. This included 60.1 million adults and 26.6 million children and teens up to age 18.

Among those uninsured, 75% had no coverage for at least six months and 60% for at least nine months, according to the report based on survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Without insurance, Americans have to pay for health care themselves, and that can result in poverty, bankruptcy and in the event people can't afford it, dead children because their parents simply cannot afford to pay for it.

Reducing the number of uninsured is a key goal set by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders as they plan an ambitious overhaul of the U.S. health care system this year, which will result in the United States adopting an European style system of free health care.

See Universal Free Health Care coming to America

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