Many physicians worry about patients like me who go online to look up their medical conditions. They worry that we patients are not capable of understanding what we’re reading. They worry that all that medical terminology is too confusing for us. They worry that patients don’t know how to research complicated medical issues. Patients, after all, haven’t been to med school and may be easily confused or mislead by what we find online.
Then there’s Dr. Joe Ketcherside MD.
He recently responded to my post called What Doctors Really Think of Women Who Are Medical Googlers (republished on LinkedIn’s Digital Health forum) – and with his kind permission, I’d like to share what one physician has to say to his worried colleagues:
“Normal people gather information on all kinds of topics and evaluate its content and reliability all the time.
“We have to decide what car to buy, how to refinish the floor, what type of mortgage to use on a home purchase, where to vacation.
“We often also have a job that has professional responsibilities and must maintain our knowledge of our specialty. We sometimes have actually gone to college and even graduate school where we learn all about doing research.
“So – sorry to the other physicians who disagree – but a great many of your patients are perfectly capable of researching their illness and in short order, knowing more about it than you do.
“There are certainly patients who get snowed by some of the bogus info on the web. Or in books, magazines, and the barber shop.
“But I have met a couple doctors in my career who stopped learning some time in the 19th century, like the one who told Todd Akin that women’s magic wombs can shut down in the case of ‘legitimate’ rape.*
“Patients who are engaged and responsible in their own health will seek information to help understand their disease and how to manage it. Engaged, patient-focused physicians will recommend reliable places for patients to find more information and will welcome their questions.
“Patients should be encouraged to seek information about their health. If their physician does anything other than further encourage this and point them to reliable resources, they have no business practicing.”
via Dr. Joe Ketcherside, Linked In: Digital Health community, August 26, 2012
* American Tea Party-backed Republican Todd Akin become infamous for his comments during a failed Missouri Senate race about “legitimate rape” – in which he claimed that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant, because the female body “has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin was defending his position that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape.
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- How a heart attack turned me into an “information flâneuse”
- Why don’t patients listen to doctors’ heart-healthy advice?
- Your health care decisions: don’t worry your pretty little head over them
- Reliable health info from the ‘medically unqualified’?
- What doctors really think about women who are ‘Medical Googlers’
- Health information online: how to tell the trash from the truth
- Why you’ll listen to me – but not to your doctor