Just as there are millions of critics eager to praise last night's chicken piccata or grumble about a lumpy mattress, Web sites such as Angie's List or rate-M-Ds.com let users post comments about their physicians.
It can be a good tool for patients searching for the best care and can lead to more business for highly rated doctors. But a bad review can mean an empty waiting room. So, some doctors are making patients sign gag orders --- legal agreements not to post online comments.
These doctors say they have no choice because privacy laws keep them from responding when patients bad-mouth them.
Perhaps the best way to balance a patient's right to quality care and a doctor's right to a fair evaluation is to have a third party review those reviews. That kind of gatekeeper can protect the rights of doctors and patients from an unfair online diagnosis.
That's a page from my notebook.