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Doctors Seeing a Rise In "Google-itis"

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the sounds-like-rickets-to-me dept.

Google 368

It's one of the fastest-growing health issues that doctors now face: "Google-itis." Everyone from concerned mothers to businessmen on their lunch break are typing in symptoms and coming up with rare diseases or just plain wrong information. Many doctors are bringing computers into examination rooms now so they can search along with patients to alleviate their fears. "I'm not looking for a relationship where the patient accepts my word as the gospel truth," says Dr. James Valek. "I just feel the Internet brings so much misinformation to the (exam) room that we have to fight through all that before we can get to the problem at hand."

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Hypochondria? (5, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241438)

There's an app for that!

Re:Hypochondria? (4, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241710)

Re:Hypochondria? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242084)

What kind of joke is that?

They omitted the sexual organs on a naked medical illustration?

Pitiful.

Re:Hypochondria? (5, Funny)

Pax681 (1002592) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242382)

What kind of joke is that?

They omitted the sexual organs on a naked medical illustration?

Pitiful.

ah i think i might be able to assist you in understanding apples stance on that my friends

the only prick allowed on Apple.com is Steve Jobs :P

Re:Hypochondria? (5, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241938)

In a world filled with perfect Doctors, I would agree with you. But in today's world of general practitioners who spend as little time with their patients as possible, individuals must take some amount of the research on to themselves.

My wife for example, is extremely flexible, to the point of being able to touch her fore-arm with her thumb on the same hand, dislocating joints, and other non-normal flexibility issues. She asked her doctor about it and got the basic "Is it causing you pain? No? Ignore it." But while researching another medical condition that she had been diagnosed with, she came across a reference to a genetic disease that causes this type of flexibility. She talked to her mother about it, 60 years old and still quite limber. She talked to her grandmother about it, 90 years old and she can still touch her toes with out bending her knees and join her hands behind her back (one over the shoulder, one under). It was pretty clear that the female side of her family was carrying this trait.

So next time she went to see her doctor, she mentioned the disease and the family history, the doc laughed and told her to leave the diagnosis to the "pros".

A month later when she was going to her new patient exam with her new general practitioner, she brought up the disease and family history. The doc listened, ordered some tests, and discovered that she did indeed have the disease. And it altered the treatment of her other condition.

So I'm just saying, even a good general practitioner won't be able to suss out all of your ailments if they are trying to diagnose you based on a 5 minute interview and what's in your chart. But if you point out some of the research you've done, even if they don't take you at your word, it can be enough to make them want to investigate that same avenue.

-Rick

Re:Hypochondria? (1)

deathlyslow (514135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242170)

Sounds very much like EDS. If so i feel her pain, my sister and myself both have the symptoms to varying degrees. Good look and glad it was found and more importantly taken seriously. Although it depends on the type/classification of EDS is used to be thought of as predominately affecting females, it can be transferred to the male offspring as well.

Re:Hypochondria? (5, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242210)

It's a good point. I've had a similar experience. I was told by my doctor that I had an incurable condition and would require expensive medication semi-regularly for the rest of my life. I immediately set out to learn more about the illness and upon doing further research I noted that some things didn't quite add up. I insisted on extra tests (just to be sure, doc) and sure enough they came back negative.

Now, a bit of internet reading won't make me an expert, but during my consultation it allowed me to be an active participant and not just a recipient of diagnosis from on high.

Re:Hypochondria? (4, Insightful)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242312)

I don't think you understand. Your wife is a rarity.

I am not a doctor. I am studying to be one. I talk to a lot of doctors. The patients who come in who have diagnosed themselves correctly, or close to correctly, such as getting the 'genus' of a disorder or disease correct while the 'species' is incorrect, are so rare that they tend to remember them.

Compare it to a Help Desk worker -- how many callers, per centum, do you think that Help Desk worker gets who would call up, have a correct or nearly so idea about what is wrong, and be calling only to get instructions on how to fix it?

Rarity score (5, Insightful)

UndyingShadow (867720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241490)

I think every website that lists all these varied diseases should put a rarity score next to each illness. That way when you think you've got Wilson's disease, you can look and see with a simple number how unlikely it is.

Re:Rarity score (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241634)

That will just make people more convinced their doctor is "lying to them" and they really are the "one in umpteen gazillion" to have some unheard-of disease

Re:Rarity score (4, Insightful)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241696)

Nice idea, but it probably wouldn't work very well. One, people are notoriously bad at estimating risk. Two, if you really think you have the symptoms that fit a particular disease, you'll just assume that "yes I really am that one person in 2.5 million that has this disease". Three, if one in a 100,000 is a "high-risk disease", because very few conditions have higher rates, it'll make it easier to convince yourself that you have it. Four, there is no fourth point.

Re:Rarity score (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241838)

Along with that, due to people's natural inflation of their own importance, even if they see 1 in 2.5 million, they won't consider how very small that number is because THEY are more important than the other 2.5 million people who won't get this disease.

Re:Rarity score (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242032)

I have seen the reverse. Used an online dating site for awhile. The numbers were this (as stated by their literature). 1 out of 20 people you like 1 out of 5 you can get along with.

So you are one out of a hundred does not sound romantic :)

Re:Rarity score (1)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241748)

In my limited, anecdotal, experience, people tend to get extra excited when they think they having something rare. It makes them feel extra "special". It's probably a similar phenomenon to someone who instincively calls any moderately painful headache a migraine: they feel more impressive using a term that doesn't actually apply.

Re:Rarity score (0)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241758)

When something is infinitely unlikely to ever occur, it will occur almost immediately. So the more unlikely the disease, the more likely that a hypochondriac will want to have it.

Re:Rarity score (1)

mjdescy (1765284) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241854)

I think every website that lists all these varied diseases should put a rarity score next to each illness.

I agree completely. Maybe one way to lower healthcare is to automate some of the diagnostic procedures through information systems. More information available to patients is better, not worse, for patient care overall.

Re:Rarity score (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241918)

Compared to all the hokum on the net, "unlikely" is gold standard proof.

Re:Rarity score (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241962)

Part of the problem is that there are a lot of websites with an "axe to grind" i.e. they are special interests and are out to make "everyone aware" of this disease and often (intentionally?) over rate the seriousness or frequency (incidence) or prevalence of the disease.

Now, not all of this is bad...having a patient who takes an interest in their health is a refreshing change....and I often appreciate the patients asking "but what about disease xyz?" The problem is when the patient refused to see logic and/or trust in the physicians final decision (not that we're always right, just a lot less wrong than you think).

Re:Rarity score (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241972)

Lost a family member to Wilson's. It does happen

Re:Rarity score (1)

Sepultura (150245) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241974)

Most people know how likely they are to win the lotto, but plenty still play. When they see 1:1,000,000,000 all that registers is the first 1, and they say "someone's got to win it, so it might as well be me!" Same thing applies here.

Re:Rarity score (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242150)

I would agree, but people keep buying lottery tickets.

My doctor DOES this! (1)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242166)

I think every website that lists all these varied diseases should put a rarity score next to each illness.

I'd want such scores for the opposite reason. My doctor Googles everything I tell him about, and concludes I never have anything. He doesn't "suffer from" his patient's Googling. That's how he practices medicine!

Google-itis (5, Informative)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241500)

As made up words go, google-itis is particularly stupid, since it literally means "inflammation or irritation of the google."

Re:Google-itis (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241560)

I am in agreement.

If I were describing this phenomenon, I'd call it Commonsenseitis.

Because when I see articles like this, it inflames or irritates my common sense.

Re:Google-itis (4, Informative)

psychicninja (1150351) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241624)

Also, when I first saw it my brain was pretty sure it said "google-tits", which is probably an even more common problem...

Re:Google-itis (2, Insightful)

nevillethedevil (1021497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241952)

Depends on how you define "problem"

Re:Google-itis (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242248)

Nowhere near as prevalent as "ogle-tits", which is now the leading cause of software engineers losing their employment.

Re:Google-itis (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242254)

Nah, thats what fark.com and foobies.com are for

Re:Google-itis (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241642)

So what would the word be? Google-sympto-mania? Symptoms related search disease? Or plain stupidity?

It's called "cyberchondria" (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242240)

Wikipedia lists sources that have referred to it as cyberchondria [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Google-itis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241808)

googlechondria is better to describe the phenomenon, or googlechondriac for the sufferer.

Re:Google-itis (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241884)

..."inflammation or irritation of the google."

Apply Bing twice daily. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist longer than a week.

Re:Google-itis (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242172)

Apply Bing twice daily

This sounds a bit like chemotherapy. The cure is mostly worse than the disease and, in fact, the only real advantage is the hope that you'll eventually be able to give up on it.

Re:Google-itis (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241954)

So it should be "Aggravated Doctor-itis caused by excessive googling?"

Re:Google-itis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242082)

Whatever you do...

DO NOT irritate The Google.

Bing and decide... (3, Funny)

Dracos (107777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241510)

...which disease you have.

Re:Bing and decide... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241978)

Strange thing is I created my sig about a week ago. \/

Re:Bing and decide... (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242276)

What I really need Bing to do is find a good doctor that will take my insurance.

What?! (3, Funny)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241564)

You mean I don't have Ebala?

No, sir, you googled a typo.

I'm sure I have it! Typos are one of the symptoms!

Indeed, but... (4, Insightful)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241572)

for those scientifically oriented, and aware of our natural cognitive bias [wikipedia.org] , it is a fantastic tool to pin down the real problem, bringing relevant information to discuss with a doctor.

You have to be a real moron (4, Funny)

Tony Stark (1391845) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241578)

Google obviously isn't the best place to get medical information, these people are twits. If you watch all the past seasons of House you'll figure out what's wrong with you. (hint: it's not lupus.)

Nothing New (1)

adeft (1805910) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241580)

There will always be hyperchondriacs and there always were. Technology isn't changing any of that.

Re:Nothing New (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241882)

There will always be hyperchondriacs and there always were. Technology isn't changing any of that.

I disagree somewhat. While I doubt technology/Google makes non-hypochondriacs into hypochondriacs, I do think it makes the existing ones worse. The last thing such a person needs is a seemingly definitive diagnosis of the worst thing that could be wrong with them. ("Oh no! A woman with AIDS reported having a rash on her legs. I have a rash. Oh my god!!! I have AIDS!")

And here I thought syllogistic reasoning was so obvious it didn't need to be taught...

Re:Nothing New (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242298)

Damnit people; please read the fine comments before responding. The hyperchondriacs are just so convinced that they don't have the disease, they'll never even open their computer, let alone Google it. Just getting them to the doctor in the first place would be a good start.

Hiring across the US (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241592)

Well, the real hospitals need to manage data. I'm looking for people for my Hewlett-Packard team so I can get a bonus. It's telework, so you can be anywhere in the US. It's for server software for managing large sets of files. Email scybert42@binkmail.com with CV and cover letter.

House, MD-itus (2, Insightful)

ghetto2ivy (1228580) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241600)

I think House has inspired a bit of this as well.

Re:House, MD-itus (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241984)

Well the medical dramas in general. Yesterday I was seeing something on TV how the Crime shows make the world seem more violent then it actually is. I am sure the same thing about these medical shows. In real life House wouldn't be getting a Random Patient once a week, that he finds worthy of his diagnosis. That would probably happen once a year. In the meantime he would probably be visiting people who have been referred to by other doctors who are stumped, in less of an emergency situation but in a well planned scheduled visit, from people around the United States.

Let the anecdotal counterpoints begin. (5, Interesting)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241648)

I'll start. My wife had intense abdominal pains which her GP diagnosed as an intestinal blockage, and prescribed liquids, laxatives, and rest.

When she didn't get better, she "Googled" her symptoms, and found that the birth control Yaz had been linked to gallbladder issues, which fit the symptoms. She told her GP -- who had never heard of these side effects -- and had her liver enzymes checked. Sure enough, they were below average. My wife was scheduled for a ($20k) liver function test, and simultaneously taken off Yaz. The symptoms subsequently disappeared, enzyme levels returned to normal, and she opted not to get the test.

Now this may well be a coincidence, as I myself have pointed out, but if it wasn't, it's a clear case where Google-itis saved us 20 grand, since she never would have had the idea to stop taking Yaz if she hadn't found similar cases online.

Re:Let the anecdotal counterpoints begin. (2, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241750)

Oops, I believe they were actually elevated levels of enzymes. Regardless, they were abnormal when symptoms were present, and returned to normal after discontinuing Yaz.

Re:Let the anecdotal counterpoints begin. (5, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241880)

This.

The dirty truth that's seldom told is: Your doctor doesn't know any better than you do. He or she is making highly educated guesses, and that's about the end of it.

Your tribal witchdoctor of years past had less knowledge, but was doing the exact same thing. Science came along and made medicine less of a guessing game, but it can never remove it completely.

From TFA:

No longer is it between a doctor who knows all and a parent who knows nothing.

Show me the doctor who genuinely 'knows all' and I'll show you a miracle worker. It simply doesn't work that way, never has, and I'm sorry if it makes some practitioners sad that the patients have more tools.

As in the case above, however, this is genuinely a good thing for us all.

Re:Let the anecdotal counterpoints begin. (4, Insightful)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241892)

Not sure that's a counter, actually; I don't think that's the kind of behavior doctors are concerned about. When your wife found the evidence that she may have been misdiagnosed, she went to her doctor to confirm it and get his opinion; she didn't dismiss him as a quack and go all homeopathic on him, or assume that he was an idiot and stop taking his advice seriously.

Re:Let the anecdotal counterpoints begin. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242028)

This one time, I was pretty sure my doctor misdiagnosed me as retarded. So I googled do-it-yourself brain surgery.

Never had that problem since.

Re:Let the anecdotal counterpoints begin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242058)

I don't think the issue is that using Google provides bad information, I think it's that people will often trust this information more than they should and make misinformed choices as a result. In your case, it was harmless to stop taking Yaz, so why not try stopping? It only becomes a big problem when people want to do harmful things to their body based on information they find online, or needlessly freak out because they mis-diagnose themselves with rare diseases.

Re:Let the anecdotal counterpoints begin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242106)

$20000 is a lot of money but liver function isn't something I'd trust to self-diagnosis. I hope the GP okay'ed opting out of the liver function test. Also, are you living in the U.S.? I can't understand how that wouldn't be covered by insurance.

Re:Let the anecdotal counterpoints begin. (1)

RobDude (1123541) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242142)

I've been less than impressed with the overall abilities of the 'GP' doctors I've been to. If you need a common prescription or a sports physical - sure. Beyond that, in my experience, you might as well just ask a nurse. You'll get the same answer.

I had a sore wrist. Went to a GP and he told me not to do pushups and that when I get out of a chair I should hold my wrist like this, and not like that. I looked at him like he was crazy.

I went online, did some research, and concluded that I *most likely* had something called a ganglion cyst. I went to a hand and wrist specialist and said, 'Hey Doc, I think I've got a ganglion cyst in my left wrist.' He took a look and said, 'Yeah, I think you are right'

Re:Let the anecdotal counterpoints begin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242380)

What the hell costs $20k other than surgery?! I know of no liver function tests that cost anywhere near that much.

Reginald Barclay (4, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241652)

A stinging sensation in the lower spine. It's Terellian Death Syndrome, isn't it?
We agreed you'd come to me before checking the medical database.
Well, this time I'm glad I did. Maybe we can stop the cellular decay before it's too late.
Reg, you don't have Terellian Death Syndrome.
- You're sure?
- I'm sure.
Then maybe it is Symbalene Blood Burn.
No. I don't see anything wrong at all. Wait a minute. There is a slight imbalance in your K-3 cell count.
My K-3s? No!
Barclay, I'm sure it's nothing.

Re:Reginald Barclay (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241738)

Considering how often crewmembers of that ship got infected with weird alien viruses, I think Barclay might have been the sane one.

Re:Reginald Barclay (2, Funny)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241858)

Didn't everyone in the crew go on to mutate later in that episode? Yeah, I'm sure it was nothing.

Let me share this one (1)

h2k1 (661151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241664)

One woman in my work makes the colleagues to go and look to her feces and feel the bumps in her breast... And she has a rare condition that is called pre diabetes, and once she said that her hymen had closed due to a very serious condition that she had down there.

Re:Let me share this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241800)

One woman in my work makes the colleagues to go and look to her feces and feel the bumps in her breast...

Is she hot?

Re:Let me share this one (1)

h2k1 (661151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241960)

If she were hot i would not post this... i would have offered myself to do the full exam

Re:Let me share this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242002)

Is she hot?

Well?

Re:Let me share this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242272)

I call shenanigans!

I have a feeling (3, Insightful)

GilliamOS (1313019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241670)

That is has been a problem of sorts since the bombardment of TV and print ads for Rx drugs. Why do they feel they need to advertise them? You can't just go and buy them OTC.

Patient misdiagnosis up %800 (1)

woodsrunner (746751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241950)

Have to agree with you. Once pharma advertising budget surpassed pharma research it was game over.

Although it is a slightly different game than the googlitis

.... not to say the two can't combine for a mega-cocktail -- especially when you consider pharma advertising recombining with GoogleDNA adsense.

Have for sometime really been hating looking up health info online. It's just chucked with so many experts exchanges.

I think we're starting to go back on the pendulum started by Susan Sontag who was an early advocate of taking control of your health back when doctors would often conceal diagnosis from patients as to not excite them.

Googlitis? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241722)

I had Ebola for five days two weeks ago. Maybe Googlitis weakened my immune system?

I misread the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241762)

I read "Google-tits," and I thought, "What about Google-tits is suddenly making them perky?"

Google saved my sight (4, Interesting)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241774)

True story - I woke up one morning and my eyes were both full of floating debris and this circular ring. Also there were lots of flashes in my eye. None of this is a good sign so I googled the symptoms and it said I likely had a detached retina and I should go to hospital immediately. I did, and yes, both retinas had significant rips and needed multiple laser treatments, a couple of vitrectomies and a membranectomy before I was given the all clear. The morning I presented the doctor told me that it was very good that I had come in so quickly because it could quickly have deteriorated to a stage where it wouldn't have been repairable.

Of course, my symptoms were pretty obvious and I had an idea what it was before I even started looking but the first hit said 'go to hospital. Now'. Very good advice. I wonder how often the opposite is true and people use Google and find that it suggests it is nothing to worry about and they don't go to the doctor? My guess is that is rather rare compared with the hypochondriacs who have nothing wrong with them.

Re:Google saved my sight (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241912)

Cool story bro!

And...I am curious how ones retina detaches in the first place. Fall asleep with contacts in? Or...I can't even imagine. Care to share?

Re:Google saved my sight (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242204)

As you age, the vitreous (the jelly part in the eye) starts to liquify. This is normal and it starts around the edges where it connects with the retina and pretty much everyone goes through this. Normally you'll see a rise in floaters in your eye as early as your 40's and it is associated with being short sighted. Sometimes, as the vitreous liquifies, some parts are still attached to the retina and this tugs at the surface and can pull sections away and that is what happened to me in both eyes (Posterior Vitreous Detachment). The ring I saw was a Weiss RIng which is from the area around the optic nerve which was pulled away.

This site covers it pretty well - http://www.agingeye.net/visionbasics/flashesandfloaters.php [agingeye.net]

Re:Google saved my sight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241970)

Rather, the trained professionals saved your sight. All Google did was act as a vector through which you wasted your time searching for something that should have been immediately obvious to you - that something sure as hell wasn't right, and that you needed to get your ass to the hospital. If you needed a Google search result to clue you in, you have some other issues tucked away that need to be tended to (Google them, perhaps?).

Re:Google saved my sight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242068)

Sure, take the risk that MAYBE they will correctly diagnose and treat you. I prefer to be informed.

Re:Google saved my sight (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242358)

I prefer to be informed.

I really hope my sarcasm detector is just off-kilter today, but...

We're talking about Googling medical conditions, not Googling medical conditions and following it up with 8+ years of med school. There's no realistic way a lay-person with a net connection can properly be informed before meeting with their GP, pow-wowing with their OB/GYN, or rushing to the ER. They can fill their heads with all the textbook phraseology they wish, but without proper training it doesn't mean a damn thing.

Re:Google saved my sight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242182)

I had the same thing happen to me one morning and searched the symptoms. I remember the recommended answer was to see an Ophthalmologist right away. I waited hours in waiting rooms and then they confirmed what I already knew; that I had a detached retina. But by this time the detachment had already affected my macula (bad news, when trying to preserve your sight).

Re:Google saved my sight (1)

xandercash (1791710) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242342)

That must have been SOME DREAM you were having. ;-)

Fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241814)

Having worked in healthcare information, I can tell you that many doctors are afraid of computers and information. When I hear of a rare disease/condition (which I would NEVER get from a TV show like, oh, say, "House") I often google it, but I use information from websites like mayoclinic.com, nih.gov, webmd, etc.- not joe's blog or nancy's health forum. As with all information and research there will be good info and bad.

Computers will improve medical diagnostics- when they are finally accepted (required?) and people can use diagnosis charts and checklists and do some of the background work before seeing the doctors.

On a positive note, most doctors and healthcare professionals are encouraging people to be more informed and involved in the process. In fact, if you're not, you're more and more at risk for medical mistakes. It's your life and health- learn and be informed.

Someday this will all be behind us and we'll wonder why we relied on perception and "gut feel" so much and so many problems were not diagnosed early enough (like my friend's dad who died unnecessarily of an otherwise curable cancer.)

Baloney (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241834)

"...where the patient accepts my word as the gospel truth,..."

I asked my doctor once what the side-effects were for a prescription. He looked at me dumbfounded and never answered my question. That Doctor then became NOT my Doctor.

Re:Baloney (1)

tukang (1209392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241998)

"I'm not looking for a relationship where the patient accepts my word as the gospel truth," RTFS?

Google-itis (2, Interesting)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241844)

It's a contagious form of medical student disease.

Even though they have textbooks, apparently they do the same thing. (...or at least it's been shown on a whole bunch of medical shows.)

Good with the Bad (3, Informative)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241856)

A buddy of mine had severe sinus congestion. His doctor told him to take Afrin. [wikipedia.org] Over the course of several years, his sinus congestion became worse. His doctor performed all sorts of exotic therapies, [wikipedia.org] and continued to recommend Afrin. Thanks to Google, and Wikipedia, he discovered that long term use of Afrin can cause a dependency, and actually make the symptoms worse. [wikipedia.org] A second opinion by another doctor confirmed his internet diagnosis, and he is doing much better.

Coping with Afrin addiction (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242340)

PROTIP: As you finish a course of treatment with oxymetazoline nasal spray, use it in one nostril at a time, alternating between doses. This way you can still breathe through the rebound congestion.

It wouldn't be so much a big deal... (1, Insightful)

Qubit (100461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241872)

...if Medicine wasn't such a members-only club. There's the "In" crowd and then there's the "Rest" of us.

Take other fields.... writing, education, programming, painting, online stock trading -- anyone can hop online or go down to their local bookstore, get How-To books, and start to do actual work in hundreds of different fields. But not in medicine.

Sure, you can learn some First Aid, and maybe even some more advanced techniques, but eventually you'll have to go to medical school to become a nurse or doctor, or at least attend weekly courses to become an EMT. And there are some safety reasons for training people in this fashion, as well as restricting access to certain drugs to only those people who demonstrably know their effects and interactions.

But just because there are some good reasons, some of the time, to lock up some medical knowledge or access to the tools of the trade, doesn't mean that there won't be hundreds if not thousands of motivated individuals that want to try to tackle their own medical problems the same way they do home improvement projects.

Quoth the doctor:

"I just feel the Internet brings so much misinformation to the (exam) room that we have to fight through all that before we can get to the problem at hand."

So here's one for you: Why can't you fight that misinformation before the patient even steps foot in the exam room? Why don't doctors create peer-reviewed, well-written websites to counter all of the confusion and pseudo-science currently available online? Won't patients gravitate to the more prestigious sites, especially if doctors point them there?

But I don't think that doctors want patients to ever try to self-diagnose, so they won't ever put this information online. Whether or not the doctors have the patient's best interests in mind, this creates a rift between the two parties, and does little to advance patient-centered health care.

Re:It wouldn't be so much a big deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242006)

Exactly. In my experience doctors provide sod all info about whats going on with you and what the process for dealing with it might be. If I was as bad at keeping clients informed in my role as my doctors are with me I wouldn't have a job!

Re:It wouldn't be so much a big deal... (2, Insightful)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242274)

So here's one for you: Why can't you fight that misinformation before the patient even steps foot in the exam room? Why don't doctors create peer-reviewed, well-written websites to counter all of the confusion and pseudo-science currently available online?

Because then the Dr. is liable for any information that he may have "pointed" you towards. Even peer-reviewed information, while it may cover the majority of the seekers' symptoms more accurately than the pseudo-science, there's that small percentage that would wind up taking the advice and be wrong...then there's a lawsuit.

More importantly, patients might be less likely to come in for an exam based on the information at-hand, thus the Dr. could not bill the standard 992XX code for their $85 office visit reimbursement from the insurance company. Hey, a guy's gotta eat.

Re:It wouldn't be so much a big deal... (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242284)

you can.

you can easily learn medicine, you just cant practice legally.

I personally am interested in pharmaceuticals and discovered that contrary to the line of bull big pharma gives us, hard powder pills do NOT drop in potency even 10 years later when stored properly. your old perkadan and Darvoset pills from 10 years ago are still highly potent. and generic low strength Anti-biotics are just as effective years later.

How did I test? the same way they do. Pitri dishes with a growth medium and a incubator. I innoculate the dishes and grow colonies, then innoculate the dishes with a measured dose of fresh and over 10 year old of the exact same antibiotic.... Penicillin. then count the colonies left after 48 hours of incubation.

I saw the same level of kill off. It got me a big A in college for my microbiology project. I can see liquid medicine and liqui-gel pills degrading. but I cant see a hard powder pill degrading when stored right. I'm betting they can go a half century.

Re:It wouldn't be so much a big deal... (2, Insightful)

SakuraDreams (1427009) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242362)

...if Medicine wasn't such a members-only club. There's the "In" crowd and then there's the "Rest" of us.

Take other fields.... writing, education, programming, painting, online stock trading -- anyone can hop online or go down to their local bookstore,

I'm a doctor.
You mean a multi-billion investment fund will take my advice where to invest their clients' money? I should just email them after having read some books?

Or perhaps the city will let me design a bridge? Or maybe I could learn to fly on Microsoft Flight Simulator and give my airline pilot advice during the next turbulent flight I encounter?
Maybe I should barge in and tell the magistrate in court what they should do - I've seen Perry Mason do it and read some books.

"I just feel the Internet brings so much misinformation to the (exam) room that we have to fight through all that before we can get to the problem at hand."

It's very good advice. People are not specialists. You can't be a stock broker or a computer programmer and expect to be a doctor too. It's nice to be able to read up information but don't presume you will understand it, let alone be able apply it.

So here's one for you: Why can't you fight that misinformation before the patient even steps foot in the exam room? Why don't doctors create peer-reviewed, well-written websites to counter all of the confusion and pseudo-science currently available online?

There are many such sites. In the UK the NHS has sites with information for patients. In the US the CDC (among other agencies) has similar sites. There is also WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/ [webmd.com]
It's usually helpful to start with your local Health Ministry websites and work from there. As said in the UK, this would be NHS.
There's also the Health on the Net Foundation which 'certifies' sites which contain credible medical information. http://www.hon.ch/ [www.hon.ch]

The knowledge is there already or do you want you doctor to spell it all out for you. Should he also take you down to your local library to point out the right section for you?

Of the two people in this room... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32241886)

..one person actually cares about the patients health. Is it the one who made an appointment to go through an uncomfortable examination because they felt like something was wrong, or the one trying to squeeze as many credit ca... people through his business in an hour as possible?

Do your own research people. Go to your doctor armed with information, and don't let them brush off your concerns. Will your doctor like it? No, he went to medical school, and who are you to think you'd know something about your body that he didn't see in the 1.3 minutes he spent in the room with you so far?

To be fair, TFS seems to promote the idea of the doctor actually spending a few minutes with the patient doing the same types of searches they were doing at home, and when my daughters pediatrician did this for me and my wife around the H1N1 scare, we left feeling much better, so, I don't know.. am I building a strawman? I've heard it both ways.

There's an app for that too! (2, Interesting)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241934)

Actually, a whole bunch -- http://blog.openmedicine.ca/node/223 [openmedicine.ca] . Given the rising cost of health care, this will certainly be a growth industry.

People google because family doctor are useless (3, Insightful)

BurningTyger (626316) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241948)

Family doctors are pretty much useless. Why do I need to book for an appointment, wait like 30-40mins at the clinic even though I have an appointment, and only able to talk to the doctor for 5mins?

I went to do my annual check-up with the family doctor a year ago, and I complained to him about my day-time sleepiness. The doctor simply dismissed it as "bored at work". I basically had to google the symptom myself afterward to discover that I might have sleep-apnea, and then book another appointment to tell the family doctor to just give me a referral to see a sleep specialist to do more comprehensive test. Lord and behold, my self-diagnose was confirmed by the sleep lab, and I even knew that the treatment would be CPAP before the sleep doctor suggested it.

The point of the story is, yes, there will be paranoid people who suspect they are dying of rare diseases because of their headache and whine to their doctor all day. For most people, they are better off googling their own symptom first, get a general understanding of what could be the cause of it, so that you can better talk to your family doctor on what test to do and which specialist to see.

Hey, you don't go to see a car salesman before doing your homework, why go see your doctor without getting a better idea of your own health?

Re:People google because family doctor are useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242350)

Maybe your crappy HMO is the reason they don't spend a lot of time with you. Health Care is harder on doctors who run their own business than it is for anyone else. If they get paid the same regardless of how much time they spend with you, then there is a time limit to talk to you before they begin breaking-even or losing money thanks to America's crappy insurance. That time limit is usually 20 minutes.

I googled my itis. (2, Interesting)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241990)

Turned out to be bursitis. To be fair, I didn't really google it but went to webmd so I didn't end up in hypochondriac hell. It was very specific about every symptom I had (swollen elbow, the sort of pain, the warmness), and it gave me a reasonable diagnosis (don't mess with it, use the body part as little as possible, see a doctor if it doesn't stop being swollen in about two weeks). It saved me a doctor's visit, but more importantly, it gave me peace of mind.

I'm very well aware that sites like those, particularly online versions of the DSM IV, are hellholes for developing hypochondriacs, but when used responsibly with reasonable expectations, sites that are more professional in tone can be very useful. And if you don't like what you read, or it gets worse, well, you get to make the call about going to the doctor instead.

Not the reason for Exam Room computers (1)

BenboX (194360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32241996)

Physicians need to start putting computers in exam rooms not because of Google-itis, but because we desperately need to start using electronic medical records.

An extraordinarily low percent of hospitals are using EMRs. Source: study by the New England Journal of Medicine, reported here in the American Medical Association:

http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/04/06/gvsc0406.htm [ama-assn.org]

Forget Google-itis, how about having a system where if one doctor prescribes a medication, an alert immediately pops up warning the physician that this patient is also taking another medicine that will cause severe reactions if the two are taken together?

Imagine an industry that has extremely high-tech factory production equipment (Advance MRIs, Gamma Knife non-invasive surgical devices), but has the back office operations run entirely on post-it notes and shuffling paper back and forth on shopping carts. Get the systems in there to prevent dumb medical mistakes and improve cost efficiencies. Preventing Google-itis is a small amusing beneficial side effect.

Ben

now listen here... (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242066)

this is medical medicine...its complex, dangerous quackery not well suited for the average person...you need years of institutionalization before attempting it, and google will usually just suggest crazy things like a healthy diet and exercise...this is counterproductive to your well-being as it distracts you from your television.

We, the medical community, have contracted ineffably large pharmaceutical conglomerates and enlisted their superior knowledge of your symptoms in order to diagnose and treat many major illnesses you may, or may not, or may in the future should you decide to, be suffering from. Conveniently and enlighteningly peppered throughout your favorite episodes of House, the informative commercial programming from bloated clearinghouses of pharmacopoeia are designed to ensure you the lay-consumer are well armed should you decide to change, increase, or consume ever more of these life preserving drugs through your responsive and caring doctor-type sales representative.

dilbert replayed there health plan with google (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242088)

dilbert replayed there health plan with google

Information is bad (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242152)

Information is bad, leave it to the specialist!

I've been diagnosed with ADD, went to the neurologist to talk if I should take any drugs. The guy prescribes me something, I google the medication before buying, and it was some hardcore anti-seizure drug with a lot of bad side effects. Went to another doctor, and he said WTF. Google saved me money and my health.

Most of the doctors I have met, love when pacients look up to them and trust every single word they say. And they hate it when people try inform themselves.

Oh thank god! (1)

xandercash (1791710) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242214)

If Google is wrong, maybe I really DON'T need a hysterectomy and a vasectomy.

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242232)

I spent years looking for reasons I use linux on google, I came up with aspergers [slashdot.org] as a self diagnosed issue.

Doctors are the problem not the solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32242256)

Well if we want to get right down to the brass tacks of the issue...

PEOPLE ARE DOING THIS BECAUSE DOCTORS DONT DIAGNOSE ANYMORE!

Sorry for the shout... but the facts are quite apparent... 99% of the GPs (general practitioners) ONLY care about the symptom and what drug they can perscribe to (in most cases) MASK it. You doctor wants to see you walk into his office and the next thing he wants you to do is WALK BACK OUT as quickly as humanly possible.

Anyway... sure let the doctors and medical societies MOCK and LAUGH at 'the great unwashed public' as they try to self diagnose... but %#*(%*() if the %(*%()$ ^ doctor isn't going to diagnose you then what choice do most / all people have?!

Work the problem (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32242286)

This happens everywhere. No one wants to work the problem. They want to provide a solution and complain when you don't implement it. We see this in software all the time. So client comes in and says 'I want t a web site that looks like this and has these pages.' As responsible professionals we ask 'what is it you are trying to do', not to pad billable hours or because we don't want to do the work, but because we know that to often the client has been told the solution, independent of whether it is a reasonable solution for the problem at hand.

I can understand why people do this with doctors though. I have gone into exams for a particular problem, have sat through the exam thinking we were working the problem, and then be given so stock drug that may or may not solve the problem, never being told what the problem is. When ever diagnosis seems to be for the benefit of the pharmaceuticals...

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