Medical information on the web, comment


Medical information on the web varies from useful to fraudulent. There are so many websites out there that offer inaccurate information to individuals that it is worrisome. How many times do our patients go home and google their medication, diagnosis and treatments? If you have individuals that can not separate real from fiction, this could be dangerous for your patient. My mom is a good example. She has only started using a computer within the last 2 yrs (she is in her 60’s) and she does not understand that the information on the web is placed there by “humans” and that the information is only as good or accurate as the person putting it on there. She lives several states away so we communicate a great deal by email. She sent me an email the other day with a website she found that discusses ADHD (which by daughter has). The information was WAY out there. She was convinced that we needed to look into this and change my daughters diet, clothes (yes clothes), shampoos, etc. It was a very weird site. I emailed her back and explained that this wasn’t a medical sanctioned website and it was some mother out there who was “out there.” This is a good example of how we, as professionals, need to be careful encouraging our patients to go online. If you have a patient who would benefit from more information than you have in your office, make sure that the information is medically sanctioned. Such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Diabetes Association, etc. If you google weight loss you get information for everything from magical pills to the lapband surgery. If an individual is easily influenced or uneducated, the web could be a very dangerous place. Education is key for maintaining good patient relations. We should educate our patients not just push them towards the almighty internet.

Original Post:
March 16, 2009
In this day and age with computer technology what it is, patients have more and more access to medical information on the web.  Unfortunately, not all the information they access is reliable.  Many patient reference materials state “facts” that are unfounded.  Sometimes the website is sponsored by a vendor with biased information.  At times, the availability of medical information on the internet can help a patient make educated decisions but at other times it can just confuse the issues and sometimes can result in interference in the patient’s medical care.  Part of our patient education needs to be to provide the patient with reliable resources to educate themselves.  One way of doing this is for physician’s websites to have links to reliable medical information. For example, a physician who sees patients with diabetes could include a link to the American Diabetes Association, a well-known, reliable source of diabetes information.  In this way, the patient is still able to access additional information and research about their condition without having to sift through misinformation.

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