Google patients – I refer to those patients who come to my clinic or to the Accident & Emergency with a print out of their presumed diagnosis on the basis of Googling their symptoms. They usually have made up their mind about their “self – diagnosis” and have a firm conviction that all their symptoms fit into that “diagnosis”. They are usually immune to logic and explanation by a doctor. You may have all the experience and expertise in your specialty, but it is hard to convince these “Google patients” otherwise.
Another thing I have noticed is the amount of health advise given by fellow sufferers on Yahoo Answers. If you haven’t been to Yahoo Answers, I suggest you go and pay a visit. You can see the blind leading the blind. As a doctor, I am sure you would have experienced the rare patient, whose diagnosis you are uncertain of. Mind you that is after taking a complete history and performing a physical examination and having done some basic ( or complex) investigations.
And yet you will see, complete strangers giving advice on Yahoo Answers, to complete strangers after reading one paragraph about their current ailment on the net. I have been guilty of the same, just to try & see whether I can do it without actually seeing a patient and yet found it so hard. Advising on the net, without actually having the normal doctor – patient interaction, is like shooting in the dark. Whether the advise is correct or not, no-one knows.
This is quite dangerous as the Google patient ( or for that matter, Yahoo patient) is already presuming a diagnosis before actually been seen by a Doctor.
So, the typical Google patient walks into your office armed with a print out, to either get a confirmation of “His diagnosis” or to argue with you as to why the Google Diagnosis is incorrect. And we as clinician’s spend increasing amount of time to dissuade them otherwise.
This is obviously a very dangerous practice and needs to be discouraged, yet you will see the on line world full of this.
Unless it is your own doctor or someone who knows your medical history, it is dangerous to go for online advice. I do not recommend this practice and would advice extreme caution before asking for online advice.