6. I think it's important to note that when a doctor googles your symptoms, they a) use their education to filter out false-positives that a lay-person might not, and b) don't have an agenda. Meaning, they're looking at the results objectively, whereas I might downplay or over-emphasize certain symptoms when googling my own condition because I have a deeper emotional stake in the outcome.
In other words: Please don't think that, because medical professionals use the internet to research your conditions, you can justify cutting out them out of the equation.
Also, it's lupus.
7. They definitely do, and very often. Usually they know which things are reliable and how to search based on their medical knowledge.
If you go to the right sites/journals, and you know which symptoms to type in, and how to accurately determine if you really have those symptoms, then it can be very accurate. You also have to know how to discard inaccurate results (if it gives you a rare blood disease only found in Africa, and you have never left Kentucky, you probably don't have it).
Source: Wife is a doctor.
8. A doctor's googled my symptoms in front of me!
9. Doctors, especially specialty trainees, do a lot of googling. There are so many rare, weird and wacky conditions out there that no one can possibly know everything.
I've spent the past two months on a paediatrics team, and at one time we had a kid with an incredibly rare congenital syndrome (heart on the wrong side, liver in the middle, multiple non-functioning spleens). Thankfully we didn't actually have to manage his chronic issues because they were being managed by specialists in another city, but only one of the senior specialists at our hospital even knew what it was. The registrars, residents and medical students did a lot of googling. Because that's how we learn.
With acute management you will find that guidelines are constantly evolving. The algorithm for dealing with a patient with a prolonged fit of epilepsy that you might have memorised a few years has probably changed two or three times since then (midaz, midaz, phenytoin, btw). There's no shame in doing a quick Google to find the most recent guidelines. It's far better to treat your patient safely and with confidence than to try to do something you're not comfortable with off the top of your head.
The emergency department is probably the part of the hospital where google and other online resources are most used. Presentations to ED are extremely diverse, with no two shifts seeing the same case-mix. If a quick Google can save a call to the consultant at 3AM and still allow you to treat the patient safely and effectively, then that's what most doctors are going to do.
Google is an incredibly powerful tool in the right hands, but only if you know how to use it. In medical school we are taught skills to effectively search the volumes of information online to pick out what is relevant and discard what is not. A site like WebMD may tell you that you have cancer, based on your non-specific fatigue and weight loss, and sure, there may be a chance. A doctor would take into consideration your presenting complaint, your medical history and any investigations that might be done, to work out a diagnosis.
Aside from Google we tend to use clinical practice guidelines (local health system, eTG, etc), clinical decision support making tools (UpToDate, BMJ BestPractice), Medscape, review journal articles and more.
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