Last night I went looking on the Internet for an old friend from medical school. After a couple of minutes with Google, I was able to find her faculty page with the children’s hospital in the city where we went to school. Piece of cake. She seems to have done quite well for herself.
Now comes the embarrassing part. I decided to Google myself. Oh, c’mon. Like you haven’t done it, too. Don’t judge me!
Anyhow, turns out there are a handful of doctors with my name. (I’m not the one in Pensacola.) Focusing in on the one who’s actually me, you get a few links. One is my current professional profile, complete with a horrible picture. And a few are doctor rating sites.
Friends, one of those sites gives me a measly one star. One stinkin’ star out of four. (The same site also rates the medical school the doctor attended, and my poor old alma mater only got one star, too. Which is grossly unfair. As a proud graduate of the University of Redacted, I say with conviction that it deserves nothing less than one and a half stars.)
There are a few reasons I was able to avoid crying myself to sleep. First, while I may not be a modern-day Galen, I know I’m a better doctor than that. The site still lists me with my old practice, and my shiny one-star rating is based on one solitary anonymous evaluation, submitted without any comments. So clearly I pissed someone off back at the old job for some unspecified reason, sufficient for them to go to the trouble of rating me. Enough new patients come see me on the recommendation of other happy patients that I can feel relatively confident that I’m pretty good at what I do. Two-star caliber, at least.
But I was able to take even more reassurance from the site itself. In addition to the doctor and his or her medical school, the site also rates the hospitals with which they are affiliated. Even though it still lists me as part of my old practice, it has both my old and current staff positions. My previous hospital is a perfectly decent small-city medical center in New England. Currently I’m on staff at what is widely recognized to be one of the best children’s hospitals in the world.
My old hospital got three stars. The world-class hospital where I’m on staff now? Got two.
Now, I don’t mean any disrespect to my old place of employment when I say that any sane observer would recognize that my current hospital is roughly a gajillion times better, by any even remotely lucid measure. If it got only two stars, and my last one got three, then the ratings are completely, patently, laughably meaningless. Which is why nobody should rely on them, and no medical provider should worry about them.