Doctors warn of catastrophic consequences from using Dr Google

February 10th, 2011 - 5:43 pm ICT by ANI  

Wellington, Feb 10 (ANI): Doctors have issued warnings over the usage of Dr Google to make a self-diagnosis, saying it could lead to catastrophic consequences.

The warning comes as it was revealed that four in five Australians are turning to the web for health information and nearly half of those are using Dr Google.

Leading GPs say people are presenting to the doctor with fears of major health issues when the real problem is minor, while others put off going to their GP because they believe their issue is not serious.

Dr Brian Morton, former president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) in NSW and chairman of the Council of General Practice, said he saw a man with symptoms of temporal arteritis - inflammation and damage to blood vessels that supply the head area.

Morton said the condition should be managed urgently as it can lead to “catastrophic blindness”.

However the 70-year-old man’s son had Googled the symptoms, body aches and jaw pain when chewing, which led him to suspect they were actually side effects of Lipitor, a popular medication for reducing cholesterol.

“He thought all he needed to do was to stop his cholesterol lowering medication,” quoted Morton as saying.

Further, the man also used a search engine to research the medicine Morton prescribed him for temporal arteritis and second-guessed the treatment.

“So there is potential for Dr Google and well-meaning family members to cause catastrophe,” Morton added.

Dr Steve Hambleton, federal vice-president of the AMA, said the “information explosion” on the Internet has spawned many great sources of medical advice but also copious amounts of bad information.

“The 50 percent who are trying to self-diagnose is really disturbing, because that’s the hard part, that is where you need someone with very broad experience who can look at all the parameters at the same time and try and come to a view as to where we should go,” he said.

“That’s why GPs aren’t allowed to practice independently until they’ve had 10 years of training,” he stated.

Hambleton said people should only use the Internet to research conditions a doctor has told them they have, rather than trying to put together a diagnosis based on multiple symptoms. (ANI)

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