Social media is increasing our complaints against doctors

Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook are making us more apt to moan about our GPs and surgeons. At least, that’s the conclusion from a new report from the General Medical Council (GMC).

They asked a team of researchers from Plymouth University to blame the internet investigate after the number of complaints against doctors almost doubled in five years, going from 5,168 in 2007 to 10,347 in 2012. The study doesn’t pinpoint one specific cause but does suggest that negative coverage in the press and the public’s increasing willingness and ability to share their dissatisfaction via social media are likely to play a part.

The GMC denied there had been any drop in standards in patient care, and they may be right, as the report also said that patients feel less deferential towards doctors than they used to and more likely to stand up for their rights – so the rise in complaints may be more about us all feeling more assertive thanks to our friends on social media, rather than having worse experiences with doctors than we used to.

The GMC also acknowledged that there might be less online grumbling if their complaints process was easier. Still, as much as this study sheds light on the social factors and social media that influences where and why we complain about doctors, maybe now some money could be directed to increased training and better care so that there’s less need to whinge in the future…?

Image via Lauren Nelson’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley

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