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Your Practice Online: Mitigating Defamatory Dental Patient Reviews

If you believe you have received an unfair or inaccurate review from a patient, follow the guidance of TDIC’s risk management experts to create a plan of action to address defamatory online reviews. 

Creating and maintaining a strong web presence for your dental practice not only increases brand awareness, but it also provides a platform for satisfied patients to do some of the marketing for you. Patient reviews play an instrumental role in helping practice owners build trust and confidence and are often the factor that drives a potential patient to call and schedule an appointment.  

But patient reviews can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Even with your best efforts, you won’t always be able to satisfy every patient who comes into your practice, and there could come a time when a patient decides to leave a negative or defamatory online review that could hurt the credibility of your practice.  

The Dentist Insurance Company provides a no-cost Risk Management Advice Line to help policyholders navigate challenging situations, like disgruntled patients. Advice Line analysts note that when faced with a negative review, it’s best to keep your responses short and professional. First, offer to handle the matter offline by asking the reviewer to call or stop by the dental office to further discuss their complaint.  

You should also state that your response is not confirming or denying that the reviewer is a patient of your practice. This shows you are concerned and not ignoring their complaint. You should also refrain from disclosing any of the patient’s personal information or details about their situation in question — even if the patient has already included this information in their review. You could inadvertently breach patient confidentiality, such as revealing a patient’s health condition, or make a defamatory statement in return.  

But what if a patient leaves a review that’s false or defamatory? The Dentists Insurance Company strongly advises against refuting the claim or responding in a defensive or confrontational manner.  

In a case reported to TDIC’s Risk Management Advice Line, a patient who posted a negative review online had also asked at least 10 of her friends, none of whom were patients of the practice, to post negative reviews. In total, the patient and her friends posted about 80 negative reviews within 24 hours. The Advice Line analyst advised the dentist to contact the patient directly to address her concerns leading up to the negative review and request that they remove their comments.  

If you believe you have received an unfair or inaccurate review from a patient, you can use these steps to create a plan of action to address defamatory reviews online:  

  • Check if the website has a written policy or protocol for removal of the postings and follow the process to request removal of the information.  

  • Research and determine who may have posted the negative comment and then review the patient’s file to determine if you have information that may corroborate your rebuttal or contradict the patient’s claim.  

  • Seek legal advice to determine what options are available to mitigate the problem.  

Take a proactive approach to minimize negative reviews by maintaining a clear line of communication with patients. Ensure your services, expertise and protocols align with their oral health goals. 

TDIC’s Risk Management Advice Line is a benefit to TDIC policyholders. To schedule a consultation with an experienced risk management analyst, visit or call 1.877.269.8844. 


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