We live in an age where the hypochondriac has more tools to work with than ever before. There’s Specialist Google, Surgeon Bing, and even Dr Wikipedia. When it comes to our doctors, we have learned that they don’t know everything, and we depend on commercials, the internet, and other sources for information over them. We self-diagnose, and more often than not, we end up wrong. I guess not actually having a medical degree does make a difference.
Interestingly, it’s not just us turning to the Internet, which is somewhat scary for me. What did doctors do during all of those years of school and residency, and moreover, why am I paying them when recent studies have suggested that they are looking on Wikipedia for diagnoses, just like many of us. Call me crazy, but I like to hope that a doctor has more of a reference to what those symptoms sound like rather than guessing in the dark. I’m completely okay with a medical database for doctors just to double check themselves, but Wikipedia isn’t exactly the best source for expertise. Hence why so many of us get bad self-diagnoses from it.
Instead, we are getting doctors who use Wikipedia as the #1 source of medical information. 70% of MDs report using it as an
information source in providing medical care. 90% of the medical information provided on the site is inaccurate. Not so reassuring, and this comes from the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Hilary Gerber MD of Yahoo Health says,
We compared the 10 conditions responsible for the most medical costs. For example, hypertension, back pain, and depression, then cross-referenced them with updated, peer reviewed studies. Most of the information on Wikipedia was inaccurate. There is information that is correct, but
there just wasn’t enough that was right.
The idea is that doctors will still practice good medical judgment, but is that really enough? If they are referencing Wikipedia instead of actual medical text, I have questions about their judgment, especially considering the reports of inaccuracy. There’s no way to tell if your doctor is using Wikipedia beforehand, and even during, not necessarily unless you see them doing it. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to just shoot in the dark:
- Research At Your Doctor’s Background: Visit websites and check out your doctor. Most of the time, you can easily find free information from your state’s medical board and other reliable sources online. You will only find settled, not any pending lawsuits if there are any. However, if you do not find it online, you can still get it from the medical board directly.
- Get A Second Opinion: If you have your doubts, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would even say that’s healthy at times. Your doctor, even if they’re a good doctor, could be wrong from time to time. They could miss something important than another doctor would pick right up on. In fact, if they’re a newer doctor (for your second opinion), they may be fresh out of school and ready to double check their facts.
- Check Credentials: You just assume that if your doctor is working in a clinic, they must be properly licensed, and that really should be a safe assumption. Just because they’re an MD though doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re meeting your specifications for the problems that you are suffering. It never hurts to check.