Health care professionals are supposed to do no harm, per the Hippocratic Oath. Who would ever have thought that some of these so-called “professionals” would partake of censorship?
Timothy Lee’s recent article on arstechnica.com highlights a dentist who is in fact doing exactly this:
I needed a new dentist, and Yelp says Dr. Cirka is one of the best in the Philadelphia area. The receptionist handed me a clipboard with forms to fill out. After the usual patient information form, there was a “mutual privacy agreement” that asked me to transfer ownership of any public commentary I might write in the future to Dr. Cirka. Surprised and a little outraged by this, I […] refus[ed] to sign and [the receptionist] show[ed] me the door.
The story goes on to say this is actually part of a template issued by an organization quite ironically and idiotically called Medical Justice. Indeed, Timothy has likely stumbled upon just the tip of the iceberg, and there are probably several doctors and dentists blindly relying on the advice of Medical Justice to protect their practice against slander and libel, when in fact these provisions not only do no such thing but instead do more to make those doctors and dentists look bad.
My advice to Dr. Cirka, and for that matter any doctors and dentists facing similar problems: don’t censor your patients, and let your good work speak for itself. Have an attorney review any “legalese” in the forms you have new patients fill out and sign; don’t blindly follow the advice of organizations such as Medical Justice.
“First do no harm” applies to free speech rights, too. At least, it should in any sane society.