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Consumer Reports: Using doctor review websites might not be good idea

SAN ANTONIO – Nearly 60 percent of people say online reviews are important when picking a health care provider, but Consumer Reports said that may not be such a great idea.

JC de los Rios hasn’t had a medical checkup since he left his last doctor two years ago. He’s been checking out possible internists on two doctor review websites.

“When you go onto on these sites, you don’t get enough information to really make a good decision about a doctor,” de los Rios said.

The Journal of American Medical Association, or JAMA, said websites such as Healthgrades, RateMDs, Vitals and Yelp often have two few patient reviews to be meaningful.

“The JAMA study found that some doctors on these sites only had one review, and many had fewer than seven. We don’t think that’s enough feedback for such an important decision,” said Trisha Calvo, with Consumer Reports.

You will probably have to dig deeper for sensitive background information that could be critical to your choice.

“You won’t find info on malpractice claims, sanctions or medical board actions on certain review sites. For those, you'll need to dig through the state medical board records and they may not be so easy to navigate,” Calvo said.

To get a more thorough background on a doctor, people can check websites such as Docinfo.org.  

People can also research the hospitals the doctor is affiliated with.

De los Rios was unhappy with online reviews, so he said he’s relying on word-of-mouth references and will try his wife’s doctor.

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