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The Other Exam Room: When Doctors 'Google' Their Patients

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the like-dr.-house-but-lazier dept.

Medicine 231

theodp writes "Writing in the NY Times, Dr. Haider Javed Warraich shares a dirty little medical secret: doctors do 'Google' their patients, and the practice is likely to only become more common. And while he personally feels the practice should be restricted to situations where there's a genuine safety issue, an anecdote Warraich shares illustrates how patient search could provide insight into what otherwise might be unsolved mysteries — or lead to a snap misdiagnosis: 'I was once taking care of a frail, older patient who came to the hospital feeling very short of breath. It wasn't immediately clear why, but her breathing was getting worse. To look for accidental ingestions, I sent for a drug screen and, to my great surprise, it came back positive for cocaine. It didn't make sense to me, given her age and the person lying before me, and I was concerned she had been the victim of some sort of abuse. She told me she had no idea why there was cocaine in her system. When I walked out of the room, a nurse called me over to her computer. There, on MugShots.com, was a younger version of my patient's face, with details about how she had been detained for cocaine possession more than three decades earlier. I looked away from the screen, feeling like I had violated my patient's privacy. I resumed our medical exam, without bringing up the finding on the Internet, and her subsequent hospital course was uneventful.'"

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A snap misdiagnosis (0)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#45896853)

So, essentially, Dr. Haider Javed Warraichis is suggesting patients to lie, because doctors are more prone to misdiagnose if they have more information?

Re:A snap misdiagnosis (4, Informative)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about a year ago | (#45896979)

So, essentially, Dr. Haider Javed Warraichis is suggesting patients to lie, because doctors are more prone to misdiagnose if they have more information?

See what I read is that the Doctor was sharing a mistake they made with a snap judgement, based on getting MORE INFORMATION -- but out of context. I think our take-away could be; "If you are going to use this internet-based information, take it with a grain of salt and find some context." There's nothing about lying, that I'm reading.

It's a good thing he didn't ask her if her parents were embarrassed about her drunken sexy behavior on spring break.

FTA;

To me, the only legitimate reason to search for a patient’s online footprint is if there is a safety issue. If, for example, a patient appears to be manic or psychotic, it might be useful to investigate whether certain claims the patient makes are true. Or, if a doctor suspects a pediatric patient is being abused, it might make sense to look for evidence online.

That to me means; "limit your searches to investigate psychosis or abuse, and double-check conclusions."

Re:A snap misdiagnosis (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#45897317)

No, doctors are lazy, and with more information usually jump to the diagnoses that will get the patient out of their office the quickest.

Re: A snap misdiagnosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897491)

You are the child who thinks the world disappears when they close their eyes.

Re:A snap misdiagnosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897833)

if you make a doctor dig for the information and only get shreds of it from less reliable sources, don't be surprised if their conclusions are subpar. Among other things, there are a lot of serious conditions that look similar to drug overdoses, and if your doctor finds you lied about using drugs, they might just assume your another junkie and miss the real issue. If you tell them that you do use drugs, but say not in the last couple days, they might pay more attention to other potential sources of the problem.

Go Ahead, Google Me (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45896881)

I don't care if my doctor Google's me. They'll have to weed through millions of results for Anonymous Coward.

As House Says (5, Funny)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#45896891)

"Everybody lies."

Re:As House Says (4, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45897241)

That explains why he failed to diagnose that guy with chronic truth-telling syndrome.

Re:As House Says (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about a year ago | (#45897377)

Including Google.

Re:As House Says (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897901)

"Everybody lies."

And I'm lying now...

It's the sign of our times (4, Insightful)

MindPrison (864299) | about a year ago | (#45896899)

Everyone google everyone. When someone is asking for employment, seek a job, seek a position, ask for marriage, new neighbors etc...you'll get googled. This isn't good, in fact - it's very bad, for everyone, including yourself. Because at some point, you'll have no privacy anymore. Sure - the one who GETS the information will be empowered by what he or she THINKS is facts, because it's out there - in plain text for everyone to see. But what you DON'T see, is the context, context as in "the other information", we're talking the "real" story here...not what someone PUT out there for everyone to see. I have a friend that have done nothing wrong afaik. His son is a police officer, and one day this police officer happen to catch "the wrong guy to mess with", the one he caught is still a criminal, but now the cop has been targeted by this criminal. The criminal happen to own a "BLOG" about his hate towards law enforcement, and he got really angry with my friends son. He decided to make my friend suffer, his wife, his daughter and his son suffer. So he went public with ALL their information and put it up on his blog. One day, when my friend needs to talk to officials, they too will google him, and they will see his name and details on the criminals page, except...they probably won't investigate the fact that the page with the information, comes from a criminal that has a hen to pluck with my friends son. This is why, this is a bad thing.

Re:It's the sign of our times (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45896927)

You know what a good thing is? Paragraphs, dude. Paragraphs.

Re:It's the sign of our times (4, Funny)

MindPrison (864299) | about a year ago | (#45896971)

You know what a good thing is? Paragraphs, dude. Paragraphs.

I was momentarily autistic when I wrote that, you insensitive clod!

Re:It's the sign of our times (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about a year ago | (#45897065)

Autism is not an acute illness

Re:It's the sign of our times (1, Offtopic)

MindPrison (864299) | about a year ago | (#45897135)

Autism is not an acute illness

I know...it was sort of a joke ;) But point taken, autism is no joke, no joke at all. In fact, some of my best friends are autistic, and very intelligent btw.

Re:It's the sign of our times (0)

cream wobbly (1102689) | about a year ago | (#45897635)

"I'm not racist, some of my best friends are black!"

Yeah, you're probably very insensitive to your friends but because of your condition they probably won't confront you about it.

Re:It's the sign of our times (0)

MindPrison (864299) | about a year ago | (#45897739)

"I'm not racist, some of my best friends are black!"

Yeah, you're probably very insensitive to your friends but because of your condition they probably won't confront you about it.

So, you decided to beat me down because you saw me excuse myself to bringing that up? That makes you a lot better than me? Good for you.

This is kind of like ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897801)

... The "Hitler Ate Sugar" argument. Just because a Racist has said 'X' does not make 'X' racist; it is the fact 'X' is racist which makes the Speaker racist. The line You quoted is, instead, an excuse put forth by Racists in an attempt to excuse Their behavior. I suggest showing how "MindPrison"'s comment is insensitive instead.

Re:It's the sign of our times (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45896929)

Because at some point, you'll have no privacy anymore.

You have no privacy now - get over it.

Scott McNealy, CEO Sun Microsystems, 1999

Re:It's the sign of our times (4, Interesting)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about a year ago | (#45897321)

Well, fuck that guy, and all the other hypocrites parroting similar views. Either mankind is doomed, or those bootlickers will be identified and despised as such - funny how they never get over that, huh? As in, fuck you, you chose your bed, now sleep in it. Forever.

Somebody is saying this is inevitable - and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true.

--Richard Stallman

I've heard quite a lot of people that talk about post-privacy, and they talk about it in terms of feeling like, you know, it's too late, we're done for, there's just no possibility for privacy left anymore and we just have to get used to it. And this is a pretty fascinating thing, because it seems to me that you never hear a feminist say that we're post-consent because there is rape. And why is that? The reason is that it's bullshit.

We can't have a post-privacy world until we're post-privilege. So when we cave in our autonomy, then we can sort of say, "well, okay, we don't need privacy anymore, in fact we don't have privacy anymore, and I'm okay with that." Realistically though people are not comfortable with that. Because, if you only look at it from a position of privilege, like, say, white man on a stage, then yeah, maybe post-privacy works out okay for those people. But if you have ever not been, or if you are currently not, a white man with a passport from one of the five good nations in the world, it might not really work out well for you, and in fact it might be designed specifically such that it will continue to not work out well for you, because the structures themselves produce these inequalities.

So when you hear someone talk about post-privacy, I think it's really important to engage them about their own privilege in the system and what it is they are actually arguing for.

-- Jacob Appelbaum ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3h46EbqhPo&t=7m46s [youtube.com] )

There is no reason to accept the doctrines crafted to sustain power and privilege, or to believe that we are constrained by mysterious and unknown social laws. These are simply decisions made within institutions that are subject to human will and that must face the test of legitimacy. And if they do not meet the test, they can be replaced by other institutions that are more free and more just, as has happened often in the past.

-- Noam Chomsky

Re:It's the sign of our times (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about a year ago | (#45897717)

Great quotes, Johann. Thanks!

Re:It's the sign of our times (2)

cream wobbly (1102689) | about a year ago | (#45897791)

Public acquiescence is easy to buy. Offer them a chance to be "friends" with that hot bod from school, or tell them it's the best way to keep in touch with granny, or dangle the promise of career networking, and they'll comply, they'll give up their all.

Re:It's the sign of our times (0)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45897827)

you never hear a feminist say that we're post-consent because there is rape

False analogy... rape is an act of violence against a person, and causes harm against that person, while the mere act of knowing something about someone else which they may not have wanted anyone else to know is not, and does not really infringe on their rights in any way. What a person *does* with that information might hurt somebody, but the mere fact that they know it does not, and privacy only covers what people simply know about, not necessarily what they do with the information.

So in a post-privacy world, it may be obvious that some legislation will need to be made in what a person is legally allowed to practice based on information that they discovered without the knowledge or consent of the person that they discovered it about. Enforcement of such legislation would be similar to enforcement on laws prohibiting sexual or racial discrimination in a workplace.

Re:It's the sign of our times (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897965)

but the mere fact that they know it does not, and privacy only covers what people simply know about, not necessarily what they do with the information.

In other words, you're cool with some guy watching your 10 year old daughter change through the part in the curtains, as long as they're not jacking off?

Re:It's the sign of our times (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897029)

they probably won't investigate the fact that the page with the information, comes from a criminal that has a hen to pluck with my friends son. This is why, this is a bad thing.

Cults, like scientology, is also using this method of slander towards their enemies. (Google "dead-agenting" for more information about the method)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology_controversies#.22Attack_the_Attacker.22_policy

Re:It's the sign of our times (4, Insightful)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about a year ago | (#45897059)

Google is like a knife: neither inherently good nor inherently evil.

Some people will do the equivalent of SEO and actually create lies about themselves that people will find. Literally, if you're smart about it when people google your name all they will see is that you are some sort of awesome human being. Link to press releases of you donating a kidney to some poor schmuck who couldn't afford it. Link to how Jesus washed your feet. Link to positive stuff.

Other people won't get it and the picture your ex girlfriend posted of you pissing yourself will make the front page of google.

Re: It's the sign of our times (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897211)

You might be found in plain text. I'm in HTML.

Re:It's the sign of our times (2)

stealth_finger (1809752) | about a year ago | (#45897359)

Everyone google everyone. When someone is asking for employment, seek a job, seek a position, ask for marriage, new neighbors etc...you'll get googled. This isn't good, in fact - it's very bad, for everyone, including yourself...

That implies everyone has loads of information about them online for all to see. If you google my name (and I imagine it's the same for most people) you'll get links to a few moderatly famous people with the same or similar names. The usual batch of profile sites with a few people with the same name none of which are actually me. I looked through the first few pages of images and I'm not there either.

It's A Return to Normalacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897411)

Until roughly 200 years ago, nobody had privacy. You lived with your extended family, and everybody knew everybody's business. This is new privacy focused world is not all good.

Re:It's the sign of our times (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year ago | (#45897465)

Would your friends son have found out about that blog without Google? Would he have been able to take any actions against that blog?

Re:It's the sign of our times (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45897685)

The interesting thing is, however, as that sort of situation becomes increasingly common in our society, most people are going to eventually learn that they shouldn't be making judgmental decisions about somebody based only on what they find online any more than they should be making such decisions based on other superficial factors.... like race, age, et al. It will never be perfect, of course... but to be honest, you can still find racist jerks too, even in places which are very culturally diverse.

Patients Lie (4, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | about a year ago | (#45896911)

And it could kill them.

Re:Patients Lie (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#45896965)

And it can harm doctors. With the spread of viral diseases like hepatitis, patient deception can lead to infection of medical personnel.

Re:Patients Lie (2, Informative)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#45897205)

Only if the doctors and nurses are incompetent. Unless they are sure, they have to assume HIV and the like anyways and be careful.

Re:Patients Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897535)

Watch Puncture. Accidental needle sticks are more common than you'd think and not always avoidable.

Re:Patients Lie (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about a year ago | (#45897419)

And it can harm doctors. With the spread of viral diseases like hepatitis, patient deception can lead to infection of medical personnel.

Doctors should always wear gloves. The patient himself might not even know yet that he has an infection.

Or the patient may actually have told it to the secretary, who marked it on the form, but the doctor didn't take time to read the form.

Re:Patients Lie (0)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#45897753)

"And it can harm doctors. With the spread of viral diseases like hepatitis, patient deception can lead to infection of medical personnel."

The doctor is more concerned about his wallet getting hurt because of an increased malpractice insurance if he misses something.

Re:Patients Lie (4, Insightful)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about a year ago | (#45897075)

Patients don't lie. They just don't have a medical professional's understanding of what is and isn't important.

Re:Patients Lie (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#45897145)

She told the doctor she had no idea why there was coke in her system. If she's telling the truth (doubt it), ok, fine. But if she lied or is in denial, that's totally on her.

Re:Patients Lie (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897219)

If she tells her doctor, the topic may end in his records, and be mentioned on the phone. State authorities steal medical records and break into confident communication. She'll likely not survive getting "busted".

Why the fuck should she put the rest of her life on the line to make her doctor happy? It's probably bad enough as it is with the tests being on medical record.

Re:Patients Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897435)

Why the fuck should she put the rest of her life on the line to make her doctor happy?

Because she was about to die anyway from lung failure anyway? Duh?

Re:Patients Lie (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45897655)

She told the doctor she had no idea why there was coke in her system. If she's telling the truth (doubt it), ok, fine. But if she lied or is in denial, that's totally on her.

Or, you know, maybe she has been clean for 30 years, doesn't touch the stuff any more, and literally has NO IDEA of why it's in her system.

Reading that I almost got the impression the doctor realized there could be residual cocaine, and that it was likely a false hit.

Re:Patients Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897701)

30 years of residual in new blood samples??! Now I'm not a doctor, but I do know that drugs such as LCD can be detected in hair samples. But still, that's 30 years ago. Unless her hair has grown all the way down her back and too her feet, I don't know of any way to detect drugs in the human body that's been 30 years ago. Bone sample perhaps?

Re:Patients Lie (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45897743)

30 years of residual in new blood samples??!

I don't know enough about it to know how long it stays in your system ... but I gather from TFS that the doctor decided that the information he had wasn't what he needed and moved on from it, and didn't pursue it.

So, for all I know cocaine is fat soluble and persists for a very long time.

Totally not qualified to speak to the medical stuff.

Re:Patients Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897869)

cocaine typically can't be detected past 3 days.

Re:Patients Lie (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45897933)

cocaine typically can't be detected past 3 days.

And yet, the doctor seems to have determined that it had nothing to do with the current stuff and moved on:

There, on MugShots.com, was a younger version of my patient's face, with details about how she had been detained for cocaine possession more than three decades earlier. I looked away from the screen, feeling like I had violated my patient's privacy. I resumed our medical exam, without bringing up the finding on the Internet, and her subsequent hospital course was uneventful.

So, depending on the kinds of tests he was doing, he apparently concluded it was a red herring.

Re:Patients Lie (2)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | about a year ago | (#45897291)

Patients don't lie. They just don't have a medical professional's understanding of what is and isn't important.

I have a bridge I'd like to sell you...

Everyone lies, even when it's to their detriment. Shame (among others) is a very powerful emotion.

Re:Patients Lie (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about a year ago | (#45897331)

Bollocks. I don't do coke. I don't do drugs. I don't do anything I'm ashamed of.

If my doctor asks me something, I tell him truthfully. Sometimes though what I tell him is not what he wanted to ask. That's not due to my lying. It's due to my not understanding the question asked, or at least, not understanding what is important in regards to the question.

Re:Patients Lie (5, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#45897361)

MD here. They lie. They lie all the time. Usually not all that important, sometimes it is. We almost always know anyway.

Re:Patients Lie (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about a year ago | (#45897429)

Patients don't lie. They just don't have a medical professional's understanding of what is and isn't important.

A little bit like computer users then, hehe... How possible can a noob know that having rebooted the computer is somehow important to the analysis to the problem?

Re:Patients Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897669)

And sometimes, not the right question is being asked.

- R. Ford

Re:Patients Lie (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897857)

It's not about importance. Humans lie, but interestingly they mostly lie when they believe (even wrongly) that their deceit will be effective.

So that's why it pays to have indisputable data. Voice recordings, data logs, CCTV, radar etc. give you an edge on getting the _people_ to tell you the truth. And in turn it makes you take people seriously when their story is incredible but matches the external evidence. People at Clapham Junction saw the lights go from green to red unexpectedly, a thing that should never happen. But they weren't believed. If there had been forward cab CCTV footage of the lights changing, they'd have been believed and a fatal accident might have been prevented (faulty wiring was causing some signals to show clear instead of danger, intermittently, such a signal resulted in a multi-train collision later on).

So.... (5, Insightful)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year ago | (#45896921)

... adoctor will fondle and touch and examine your most intimate body parts, yet they shouldn't look at publicly available information? STUPID.

Yes, they shouldn't jump to conclusions based on what they find, but otherwise, fair game.

Re:So.... (5, Interesting)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about a year ago | (#45896989)

I feel more confident in a Doctor having more information than a for-profit insurance company -- which already KNOWS MORE than the doctor in many cases.

Re:So.... (5, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45897073)

... adoctor will fondle and touch and examine your most intimate body parts, yet they shouldn't look at publicly available information? STUPID.

Except when doctors look at this publicly available information, the fact that they looked at it also becomes information which, while not publicly available, is still available to Google and, by extension, the government. Because the search engine knows who did the search (possibly exactly who if you're logged in) and where it came from.

The simple act of the search allows someone to say "this doctor's office looked for this person, and they also looked at this information". You don't think big data can't then determine that "this person has that condition and is being treated by that doctor"?

And then you've violated HIPAA laws and your obligation to patient confidentiality.

Unless you can prove no 3rd party could glean information from you doing that search (and I assure you, the doctors can't), you pretty much have to assume that someone actually could.

Which means the default position here has to be "no, you can't do that". Because it has more potential to cause harm than people realize.

Re:So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897313)

Next bit of news: Doctors offices use VPN's and Tor to access Google.

Re:So.... (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45897545)

Next bit of news: Doctors offices use VPN's and Tor to access Google.

Bullcrap. Even if doctors all had the technical sophistication to do this, which I assure you, they don't -- if you can identify the IP address of the VPN (or some of the TOR exit nodes) then you can still determine that 'a' doctor, and possibly 'this group of doctors' is doing searches about people.

When I see this:

When I walked out of the room, a nurse called me over to her computer. There, on MugShots.com, was a younger version of my patient's face, with details about how she had been detained for cocaine possession more than three decades earlier.

I immediately think, "yup, the, the nurses are just googling and finding everything about you, and they're probably doing it with zero anonymity". My impression of the standards of IT and security in the average medical context is that it's barely there (if at all), managed by people who don't know or care, likely woefully out of date and missing security updates, and probably on a network which has been compromised by malware.

Sorry, but the interwebs pretty much guarantee that unless you took some pretty extraordinary measures, determining that a specific doctors office had the mugshots.com up for a patient isn't all that tough, which tells you that patient is associated with that doctor.

I do not believe the average doctor's office has the technical skills, resources, or inclination to be able to do this in a way which would be safe, stay within HIPAA laws, and guarantee you aren't leaking out patient information in the process.

Which means they have no business doing it in the first place, but being doctors, think they know everything and have no idea of the ramifications of this.

Re:So.... (2)

SacredNaCl (545593) | about a year ago | (#45897389)

I'm more concerned with doctors being able to find medical records from other doctors. You see one quack and get a misdiagnosis, and it can haunt you for years to come. With electronic records, almost all of the hospitals are linked here, and a simple search turns up everything. Its impossible to correct things in your medical files as well. All you can do is add a statement to them.

Re:So.... (3, Interesting)

sharkette66 (256044) | about a year ago | (#45897897)

Uh, no. This is a feeble understanding of HIPAA. HIPAA would only be involved with the information in the medical record, and violations occur when information in the medical record is shared in a way that HIPAA does not allow. There are many exemptions.

Googles records of a person's search, even a doctor's search, would not constitute sharing a patient's personal medical information(PMO) in a way prohibited by HIPAA.

The idea that google knows something has been searched, then by extension 'the government knows it', therefore an inference can be made about the subject matter of the search, therefore something was illegally shared in violation of HIPAA? No way....

The google searches occur because the PMI in the record doesn't match the physical evidence in front of the health care professional. If a doctor learns something about a patient's medical condition on the internet, the privacy afforded by HIPAA should apply, of course.

Charlie Murphy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45896941)

Cocaine is a helluva drug

"feeling like I had violated my patient's privacy" (5, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | about a year ago | (#45896957)

Why would he feel that way?

To me, if a doctor can find something about a patient without going to crazy lengths to do it then he shouldn't feel bad about it. It would be like me telling my doctor I've given up smoking and he sees me smoking in front of my local Starbucks a month later. On my next visit should he really ignore that I'm smoking again or should he ask about it or come outright and say "I caught you in the act."

Granted, I'm an adult and I can decide but for medical guidance to be accurate and worthwhile you have to be honest with your doctor and his pointing out the embarrassing truth might be what it takes to get a patient to straighten up and fly right.

Re:"feeling like I had violated my patient's priva (4, Insightful)

schlachter (862210) | about a year ago | (#45896983)

It's public info, and it could help the doc make a decision, so let them use it.

BUT, make them spell out the patient what data they used to make their diagnosis if it was not provided directly by the patient.

Re:"feeling like I had violated my patient's priva (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | about a year ago | (#45897225)

So you take your car in to the dealership for a warranty repair. The mechanic googles you and sees you're a fan of The Fast and The Furious .. therefor you're probably abusing your car and are denied the free repair. It's a slippery slope..

Re:"feeling like I had violated my patient's priva (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897551)

That seems like a lot of work when they could just extract that information from the ECU's nonvolatile storage, which they have right there in the car that you brought them.

Re:"feeling like I had violated my patient's priva (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | about a year ago | (#45897721)

Oops, bad analogy, but you get the point..

Re:"feeling like I had violated my patient's priva (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#45896985)

Granted, I'm an adult and I can decide but for medical guidance to be accurate and worthwhile you have to be honest with your doctor and his pointing out the embarrassing truth might be what it takes to get a patient to straighten up and fly right.

This is probably accurate in many cases.

The geriatric coke addict in the summary not withstanding.

Re:"feeling like I had violated my patient's priva (3, Interesting)

Lemmeoutada Collecti (588075) | about a year ago | (#45897015)

Just remember as you say things like that, the doctor doesn't work for you. He works for the insurance company, the one who is paying him and with whose policies he either complies or goes unpaid. It's been a long time since the doctor was really in charge of his practice.

Re:"feeling like I had violated my patient's priva (3, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#45897207)

Wait, so this doctor now knows that his patient has a decades old history of drug abuse, at least one near overdose, and the rest of her stay was uneventful and he never brought it up... Am I the only one who says "WTF" to that? That seems like a much, much larger failure on the part of the doctor than googling a patient.

Re:"feeling like I had violated my patient's priva (1)

Nikker (749551) | about a year ago | (#45897217)

I don't think the result of your doctor finding out health concerns should result in a "gotchya" moment and why should it? Your doctor knows you very well in most circumstances in a medical and a social way, cornering his/her patient is always the least fruitful way of resolving an issue or helping someone.

It's only fair (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45896973)

After all patients google the doctors too.

Re:It's only fair (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#45897221)

It would be fair if doctors paid the paid the patients tons of money as well. As they do not, this is not a symmetric relationship.

Re:It's only fair (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#45897421)

Do you pay your doctors tons of money? I seriously doubt it. I suspect you pay a government or an insurance company tons of money, depending on where you live.

Re:It's only fair (1)

neo-mkrey (948389) | about a year ago | (#45897343)

Or go here: www.healthgrades.com

Re:It's only fair (1)

Luke has no name (1423139) | about a year ago | (#45897563)

Does that mean you get to examine them too?

What surprises me is that... (2)

Nutria (679911) | about a year ago | (#45896997)

tests can detect cocaine many, many years later. How is this so?

Re:What surprises me is that... (5, Insightful)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#45897019)

I thought the implication was that she lied about having no idea how coke was in her system because she was still an addict and still taking it?

Re:What surprises me is that... (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a year ago | (#45897337)

I thought of that too. The summary implies, though, that the doctor dismissed that possibility (patient too old).

Re:What surprises me is that... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#45897877)

And that is a major failing on the doctor's part. Old people can be addicts too.

Re:What surprises me is that... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#45897041)

tests can detect cocaine many, many years later. How is this so?

Old story but true:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contaminated_currency [wikipedia.org]

Re:What surprises me is that... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year ago | (#45897215)

We're talking human body here. Unlike pieces of paper or plastic, human bodies have metabolism that removes various toxins from the body with time.

Hmmmm ... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45897023)

Wouldn't doctors googling their patients essentially violate HIPAA rules?

Because you've now let the fact that you are a doctor treating a specific patient bleed out around the corners, and since Google is keeping track of who you are and what you searched for, they know it too.

Unless you are doing this in such a way that you can guarantee you're not causing patient confidentiality to be breached (which Google sure as hell isn't), I'm of the opinion you've demonstrated a lapse in ethics, and a breech of the law.

And, even if you search in a manner you know was anonymous, if those searches come from something which is identifiable as being the anonymous search of doctors, the content of those searches can still leak information out.

Because when Google see that Dr. Joe Quack has searched for Bob Skippy Smith followed by a quick refresher on the symptoms of herpes .... Google knows (or can infer) that Bob Smith has Herpes.

Doctors are not information theorists, and quite possibly not well educated enough about this technology to be using it in conjunction with their medical practice. Because clearly, if they understood this a little better, they'd realize they've more or less violated their ethics (and possibly the law) by doing this.

Doctors Googling their patients is a terrible idea, and has every possibility of violating the privacy of the patient, as well as the laws meant to protect it.

They better get the right person or bad stuff may (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#45897033)

They better get the right person or bad stuff may happen like (up to death with big law suits)

Just have to have the right name. (2)

willy_me (212994) | about a year ago | (#45897067)

This will only work on a few people. When I google myself, William Douglas, I get a pile of hits and none of them are for me. Additionally, people can still change their name if they want to distance themselves from their past. Will not hide you from government agencies but will be good enough for everyone else.

On a side note, a question to the grammar Nazis. When using the word "Google" as a verb, should the first character be capitalized? And as a website that supposedly stays neutral, should it even be used as a verb within headlines?

Now if you would please forgive me, I must go monitor Bing to see if their is a sudden spike in searches for "William Douglas".

Re:Just have to have the right name. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897105)

This will only work on a few people. When I google myself, William Douglas, I get a pile of hits and none of them are for me.

Well I really am "Mr Anonymous Coward", so it's much worse for me.

Re:Just have to have the right name. (1)

telchine (719345) | about a year ago | (#45897201)

On a side note, a question to the grammar Nazis. When using the word "Google" as a verb, should the first character be capitalized?

Not usually. However in the title it's correct to capitalize each word.

Re:Just have to have the right name. (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about a year ago | (#45897235)

On a side note, a question to the grammar Nazis. When using the word "Google" as a verb, should the first character be capitalized?

Seems to me capitalization in current English is used for proper nouns.
I don't know that we've ever Had proper verbs.

To google or not to Google, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous liars or search for info about them on the web (because we know everything on the web is absolutely true.)

Re:Just have to have the right name. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897393)

Yes, it should be capitalized, it's a proper noun, even when used as a verb. Google do try to discourage its use as a generic synonym for "search" but I think that's one of the few battles they're not going to win.

Re:Just have to have the right name. (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45897509)

Additionally, people can still change their name if they want to distance themselves from their past.

...including their education and work history, making it much harder to find a job.

Re:Just have to have the right name. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897537)

When using it as a verb in a headline you certainly do, since you capitalize every essential word in a headline anyway.

I recently.. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897143)

I recently suffered through some severe asthmatic symptoms without a diagnosis, i was up front with all the doctors I had seen and told them I had tried marijuana before because honestly, if that is something causing my problems I'd like to know so i can know to avoid it, that information didn't stay between my doctor and I, my insurance company found out even though I specifically put on all hippa forms not to release information about substance abuse or mental health, one of the doctors works for the DEA and reported me even though all I was doing was trying to better my health, I'm sorry but if you think google is your worse enemy you are wrong, it is your doctors themselves when it comes to disclosure, you think medical privacy laws would allow me to disclose information like that to my doctor but my recent experience proved otherwise.

Re:I recently.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897401)

You are completely full of shit.

I figured it was going the other way (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#45897189)

I figured the Doctors were googling patients info to see how much they could overcharge for their service.

F*CK GOOGLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897351)

When will people learn that google facebook, and all that other crap is evil?

The Poor Man's Background Check (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year ago | (#45897425)

Everyone realizes that googling names can frequently come up with false hits from the wrong person with the same name. Employers do this, boyfriends and girlfriends do it. Even though everyone knows how unreliable it is, they still keep googling names and using the results.
In a world constantly screaming for "moar" information it's a shame there's not enough reflection on how valuable or correct it is.

Re:The Poor Man's Background Check (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about a year ago | (#45897911)

Yup! When I self-googled, I got a whole page of MyRealName, none of which was me. The first real "me" I found was some dumb question I asked on a mailing list 15 years ago, and I have plausible deniability for that one.

Personal history, meh (1)

egnx (1767774) | about a year ago | (#45897455)

I'm less concerened about the quack looking for my personal history than I was by one using google for diagnosis and drug interactions. He made no attempt to conceal it either, he pointed out the results on screen to me. That was rather surprising but hey, sometimes I use google to help me diagnose a fault...

Decision to Treat at All (1)

Petersko (564140) | about a year ago | (#45897477)

i think doctors should be permitted to use the search to decide whether they want to treat a patient at all, based on certain criteria. For instance, if you find the patient ranting about three other doctors and claiming to be in litigation with hospitals over various perceived slights... maybe they want to steer clear. Maybe the person really has a terrible track record of bad doctors and hospitals, but I fear the loss of physicians because of false accusations and public airings of disagreements.

However, I think using it for additional diagnostic data seems dodgy. There are too many ways that can go south. What's physically present, medically recorded, and obtained directly from interview should constitute much of the initial sphere of information.

Don't trust your doctor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897605)

I have had plenty of reason not to trust my doctor, especially when I found out information I told her in confidence ended up on my medical record. Doctors now are the new cops. With ObamaCare it is only going to get worse.

Anne

I just wanna walk right out of this world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45897633)

What a crazy world we are heading to?

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