Judge OKs doctor-rating system

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A California court weighed in on an online-ranking system for the first time recently, when a Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the California Medical Association claiming Blue Shield of California’s physician-rating system is misleading and inaccurate, according to media reports.

The CMA filed the suit in September 2010, a few months after Blue Shield launched the online-rating system, which posts blue-ribbon icons next to the names of doctors based on federal quality-care standards. The CMA claimed the rating system fails to include certain pertinent patient data; relies on only a few years of data related specifically to Blue Shield, Anthem Blue Cross and UnitedHealthcare; and does not allow physicians to correct potential errors in the ratings.

Steven Brick, an Alameda County Superior Court judge, dismissed the lawsuit in late March, saying the system qualifies for free-speech protections and benefits consumers.