Health Professionals: How to protect against defamation

Pete Wildman

Picture this: it’s recently come to your attention that an anonymous disgruntled somebody is spreading rumours about you, defaming your practice and wreaking havoc for your future. There’s no smoke without fire, and your patient list is down; revenue is dropping.

Health professionals often work as contractors under their own ABN, so your personal reputation is at stake, not just your business or practice.

Defamation of your professional character is a serious offence and can obviously have negative consequences for your practice. Apart from the legal side of things, it can be frustrating to see everything you’ve worked hard to build falling apart as a result of some unfounded claims.

Assuming you find the source of the rumours, what are your options? How can you protect your business?

The difference between libel and slander

Defamation is the umbrella term for when someone spreads rumours that hurt your reputation. Libel is a defamatory statement made in writing, and slander is a defamatory statement spoken orally.

Seek legal advice

The first step is to ask the person to remove the information, or report it to a social media site if relevant. You can also sue for defamation within one year of the information being published. If this is your only option, be sure to seek legal advice.

Provide support to your employees

If you’re a business or practice owner and one of your contractors or employees is experiencing defamation or libel, it’s important to provide support. If their reputation is at stake, it will ultimately affect the reputation and revenue of the practice.

NB: Sterning Group does not provide legal advice or support, so please consult a reputable legal professional if you’re experiencing defamation or libel.


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