Posted by: whatrosewrites | July 10, 2010

Google as Doctor

A couple years ago, I heard an ophthalmologist presenting “facts” found on the Internet about macular degeneration. His findings: only 52% of the information was accurate and much of it was missing. So, I typed in “Google as doctor” and the first thing to catch my eye was “Dr. Google the latest tool to help doctors diagnose unusual cases”. When doctors diagnose a disease, they rely on about 2 million facts; one can access more than 3 billion medical articles on the net – a great pool of information. However, the most credible and reliable sources are not the easiest to find. What sells the most, like articles with some product touted alongside, seem to receive the most “hits”. Some even post the number of hits – as if this adds to their credibility somehow. Good evidence based medical information is like a needle in a haystack to find and requires someone with good medical knowledge to pick it out. Without a doubt – search engines definitely help doctors share information at a speed required to keep up-to-date with important medical advances – it’s the “Internet replacing doctor” trend that is so dangerous. Getting back to that article, in the hard to diagnose cases, it states that, “Google found the correct diagnoses in just over half of the cases..” Hey, when I was in high school, whenever someone got a “D” or barely “passed”, it meant they really got like 45% but the teacher just let them squeak by. Yikes!  Can you imagine seeing a doctor who got “D”s in med school? And yet, I too have “looked up stuff” about an ailment and got all worked up thinking it might be more serious. Since doctors are continually upgrading their education, they truly are our best source of medical information. Remember, what you are experiencing for the first time, they have seen hundreds of times..they know when it’s serious – and if they don’t, they refer you to a specialist.

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