Dr. Google May Not Always be Wrong!

As most medical people will tell you, when an appointment begins and the patient, client, owner or guardian leads with “I looked on Google and this is what is probably wrong……” the tendency is to take a deep breath and let out a sigh. After all, how many years of medical school and clinical experience did it take to gain the knowledge we hold so dear? The thought of someone doing a 5 minute internet search and being convinced they have found the answer is unsettling at best. But, is their conclusion always wrong? Should we immediately discredit their “diagnosis” because of the method of finding it? Truth of the matter is that even though many of these self-diagnoses are incorrect, it signifies a positive trend in medicine; namely the client or patient’s quest to become more informed about the medical condition they are dealing with. Granted, in some cases, this may delay the urgency with which a patient is seen. Yet there has never been a time in history that information is so accessible and coming at us so fast and furiously that no one can keep up every minute. Even though continuing education, medical journals, and colleague interaction has never been more available, we as professionals, can only scratch the surface of the total of medical developments. In daily practice we deal with many patients who have similar medical problems. It can be difficult to approach each visit with a totally fresh and unbiased mind. We often find what we expect to find and then fit that in to our previously suspected diagnosis. However, when a client or patient arrives with their own “diagnosis” that may be a bit outside of the box, we must consider whether there may be a shred of relevance. This tends to keep us honest in our thought process necessitating a continual reexamination of our conclusions. Although it can be trying at times, it compels us to be more thoughtful and thorough in our approach. It also requires us to be more complete in our explanation to the client or patient. No one would argue that this is a bad thing. So the next time, a client or patient arrives with their own diagnosis, direct from “Uncle Google” (as my friends in Thailand refer to him……..they really respect their elders), take a breath, smile and think seriously about why or why not this might be the correct answer. I have to admit, there has been more than one time this outside the box thinking has caused me to look in a different direction leading to the correct diagnosis.