Letters: Doctor Reviews And What You Won't Sell

Listeners were split on whether patients should be able to review their doctor's performance online. Also, one listener vows never to sell his great-grandfather's desk, no matter how dire the economy, while another writes that only her son is non-negotiable.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

Computer worms didn't stop many of you from dropping us an email or a comment on our Web site. Every Tuesday, we read from some of those messages.

Two weeks ago we talked about domestic violence. Conventional wisdom holds that abusers never change. One of our guests, a psychologist who works at a domestic violence center, explained that some abusers never change, but some do.

Deborah Devine(ph), a therapist in Chico, California, emailed to disagree. The unfortunate truth is that we do not have reliable data that these men change. Even well-meaning therapy professionals can inadvertently put victims at further risk. Most women will not leave abusers if they feel he will actually change.

You can go online these days to rave about your favorite restaurants, complain about a lousy plumber, and you can post reviews of your doctors too. Now, some doctors insist that their patients sign a legal document waiving their right to post any unauthorized review.

Give them a break, complained Paula, a listener in Tucson. If one patient doesn't like the doctor, that person has every right to go somewhere else. Maybe the patient was a jerk and the doctor was doing his or her best.

In Winston, Salem, Steve Feldman, Dr. Steve Feldman, came down on the other side. Having patients sign a document saying they are not to do online ratings is an extreme solution to the problem of misrepresentative online doctor ratings. Doctors should be encouraging their patients to get online and do ratings so the public can see what a great job doctors are actually doing.

We also asked you to tell us the one thing you would never sell even in tough times - engagement rings, guitars, and as Dan Dotti(ph) emailed from Georgia, his great-grandfather's desk. He was a reporter for the Richmond Times Dispatch and covered the state legislature. He bought a legislator's desk when the state capitol was remodeled at the beginning of the last century. It ties me to him, history and the newspaper industry, which, he added, laid me off last year.

But necessity can force some painful decisions. Mary Alice Mistacy(ph) emailed from Arizona: In 1989, when my husband lost his job, we sold everything - our SUV, my husband's electric guitar, my skinny clothes, and our wedding gifts. I would joke that the only thing that wasn't for sale was our seven-year-old son. Everything else was negotiable.

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