Personal Social Media and Health

Negative Online Reviews

Negative Online Reviews, Opportunity to Show Transparency, Randall V. Wong, M.D.Negative online reviews can be a good thing.  Negative feedback, that is, poor reviews, complaints online, etc., can be maddening.

You don’t even have to have a website.  These days, if a disgruntled patient or employee wants to post something negative about you or your practice, there are countless places where a negative review or comment can be made…blogs, Yelp, Facebook, etc.

You can’t stop it, even if the comments are wrong or misleading…and I just got one.

Respond to Negative Feedback

I advise every doctor to monitor the Internet for both positive and negative reviews.  The reason to find positive feedback is to acknowledge the efforts of the author and thank them as well as to demonstrate you are willing to engage digitally.  This type of transparency is very important for a doctor to be successful online.

The reason is to find negative feedback and neutralize the damage.  While the doc may diffuse the situation, more importantly, a nicely worded “rebuttal” will serve the doctor well by displaying a more human side of himself/herself to future readers.

Also, an unanswered accusation may seem to admit guilt.

Just recently, I was alerted of a “negative” comment about my recent care of a patient.  It was not posted on my blog, nor on a public forum such as Facebook, Google +, etc.  Instead, it was posted in a private community forum (you have to sign up to join).

The Negative Comment

Here’s the negative comment.



I’m 42 years old and had a FOV 6 months ago done by dr. Wong. I read a lot on this board, but i don’t like posting myself. All the postings about Dr. Wong made me mad, so I had to get an account and post.

Besides all the positive stories about Wong, here also very bad experiences. My FOV by Wong went completely wrong. I had hypotony and RD. They tried to fix it, but now, six months after my FOV, my vision is still poor!

when I decided to go for a FOV I knew the risks. So that is not the main thing I am complaining about. But it makes me mad if Wong only tells about the good stories and the great statts. Look at me….dr. Wong also makes mistakes and he is lying about that.

I still think he is a good doctor, in my case it was just bad luck, but he had to be honsest and not lying about statts. I’m sure the are more people who had a FOV by Wong and had a bad outcome.

as i said ai’m not posting a lot, but I could’nt stand the lies by dr. Wong anymore.


My Responsibilities to Every Patient

I have several responsibilities when answering any review, positive or negative, on an open and public forum.  First and foremost, I must maintain this patient’s right to privacy.  No matter how wrong the patient can be,  the offending patient must remain anonymous.

I can’t use his or her name, refer to any identifiable information, etc.  Privacy is every patients right as mandated by HIPAA.

I personally feel that I should respond with limited emotion, if at all.  My intent is to somewhat diffuse the review, but more importantly, to show my readers and future readers that I am willing to engage and I am transparent.  These are key attributes to any doctors’ success online.

My Response

As this poster acknowledges, there are risks with any surgery.  These risks are explained in detail prior to scheduling any surgery with me.  I am quite frank about the possibility of blindness from infection and/or loss of vision from retinal detachment.

The risks of blinding infection (endophthalmitis) are lower with vitrectomy than with cataract surgery.  The risks of retinal detachment are the about same as cataract surgery.

I have personally had one possible infection in 22 years of medical practice.  My rate of complications from retinal detachment are 1-2% overall (this includes all types of retinal surgery, including recurrent retinal detachments), but have dropped significantly since the advent of the safe 25 gauge vitrectomy systems.

In the last two years, I am personally aware of 2 cases of retinal detachment following vitrectomy performed for floaters.  One was repaired successfully and without loss of vision.  This is the second, though I never had the privilege of actually seeing this patient with the actual problem.  I found out through a colleague.

I urge all of the readers of this forum to seriously consider the risks of FOV or any surgery.  To say there are no risks would be a lie. Every surgeon should carefully discuss potential risks and benefits of every procedure so there are no misgivings or misunderstandings.

What Does This Mean?

Most reviews are great and are constructive.

Negative reviews aren’t necessarily bad.  Yes, they do evoke emotion, but aside from that, they can be turned around and used as an opportunity for the doctors show a willingness to engage and to demonstrate transparency.  By resisting the temptation to right every wrong, the negative review allows the doc to show his/her human side for future readers while keeping in mind that not every patient is going to be totally happy or fair.

The picture of the lemons….make some lemonade!



Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Retina Specialist
Fairfax, Virginia

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