There's been a lot of talk here and elsewhere about callous, mean or stupid doctors. An article in the Times today has a pretty good discussion of the topic. They also provide a link to a site where patients can rate their doctors.
I have mixed feelings about the rating site. I think it's a great idea in general, and I believe it has the potential to change physician behavior. However, it's not at all clear that it's reliable in any meaningful way. First, you can't tell who is managing the site (and whoever it is, they don't proofread carefully). Second, the site allows advertising, which makes me suspicious. Third, it doesn't appear that they vet the ratings at all. I tried it out by rating one of my doctors; I was able to do this without creating an account, and my rating appeared instantly. There is a way to flag ratings or listings you feel are suspect, but since it's entirely anonymous, there's no way to tell if someone has, for instance, padded his or her own rating. (No, I didn't rate myself.) Finally, I expect the site will be heavy on the doctors that serve the educated (and in my opinion overtreated) patients who have easy access to the web. Most of my patients won't have the opportunity to make use of it.
But it's a start, and perhaps will help doctors start thinking about whether they are being good instead of whether they might be sued.