PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A fight over a dental procedure left the exam room and spilled out onto the internet.
After a patient posted a particularly harsh review on Yelp, a Phoenix endodontist responded to the claims and opened up a whole lot of the patient’s dental history.
We got a tip about this one from someone who worried that the information the doctor shared might violate HIPAA.
The bad review online said things like, “I had pain all the time after the root canal” and “[the procedure] just makes $$$ for him.”
The reviewer told other people to “STAY AWAY” from Canyon Ridge Endodontics.
Dr. Gus Khalifa didn’t want his name or clinic dragged through the mud. Here’s how he started his reply to the vicious review:
“I attempted multiple times to contact you so we could handle our concerns in private. You chose to put your grievances on an open forum which means now by law you have forfeit(ed) your right to the doctor/patient confidentiality act. I regret that I must proceed with this openly.”
But an outside attorney who’s not involved in the case says that’s simply not how it works.
“Even when a patient posts a comment about a physician or a health care provider, that doesn’t mean they’ve given you permission to disclose any of that information. You’re not allowed to do it,” said attorney Marc Lamber.
The doctor then laid out specific dental history details and procedures the patient had since 2013, all to show that none of the teeth problems she was having were his fault.
An anonymous tipster filed a formal complaint with the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners. Executive director Ryan Edmonson can’t comment on this specific case, but says a dentist posting publicly like this would probably go against professional standards, at very least.
“I would say that that was probably a knee-jerk reaction. Just felt compelled to respond to something that was maybe an attack on his character or something like that,” he said.
He says it’s a product of the age we live in.
“Everything is handled via text, Skype, Facebook, whatever it is,” Edmonson said. “Versus having a conversation, people would rather air their laundry over the internet. Not a smart thing."
They will have 30 days to respond in writing to the complaint. After an independent investigation, that complaint could get dismissed, or it could lead to probation, continuing education, or even license revocation. There are a lot of possible outcomes.
Arizona’s Family spoke with Dr. Khalifa on the phone. He declined to comment because of potential legal action.
“This is slanderous and a direct attempt to destroy my reputation by providing false claims to the public and I will not stand for it,” Khalifa said in his Yelp response. “I have not ruled out litigation as an option to rectify this.”