The Internet in Modern Medicine: Gathering Facts

By | May 25, 2012

It is not uncommon for me to see a new patient arrive for their initial consultation armed with a stack of papers printed off the Internet.

Let’s begin with the simplest and most obvious use of the Internet, gathering information. My experience with chronic pain management and that of my friends in practice has been amply confirmed by studies and think-tank papers. For patients under the age of 75 who experience the onset of new symptoms, it is extremely to see a physician without first having “googled” their complaint. This is both good and bad. Patients are undeniably better informed than ever before, however the old saying “A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing” is as true now as ever.

While I spend less time on terminology and background facts than I used to, a significant portion of the initial consultation is often taken up with correcting misconceptions. Medical decisions often involve objective and subjective comparison of the present case with a large number of previously treated patients. This is something that the Internet is obviously incapable of doing.


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