Fake patient reviews make it hard to seek medical help online

Source: Laura Sydell, Washington Post (Paid Registration)

Patricia Limbaugh was desperate to find care for her husband, whose drinking had spiraled out of control. It turns out that the reviews that Limbaugh relied on — and dozens of others on The Center’s site — were fake, according to separate analyses conducted by Google and the review site Trustpilot after they were approached by The Post.

Although Limbaugh thought she could trust the reviews on a health-care provider’s site, she had stumbled upon a problem created by a convergence of forces: a public that has come to rely on consumer reviews for almost everything including medical care; a robust industry of global review fraud; competition among physicians; large Internet companies with minimal incentive to weed out that fraud, scattershot disciplinary actions by professional medical bodies and lax enforcement by government agencies.

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