“Dr. Google, good doc or bad doc?”

Dr. Google, good doc or bad doc?

Everyone has done it–consulted “Dr Google” for their symptoms, a new diagnosis, or a procedure.

Without doubt the internet is a great resource for bringing medical information to the public.  But even as trained medical professionals we sometimes find it daunting to navigate through the sheer volume of online content.  While this content is at our fingertips, how do you navigate toward helpful valid information and away from questionable information that causes confusion and worry?  Is Dr Google a good doctor or a bad doctor? These are not simple questions to answer.  That is where your physician comes in.  Essentially we are curators,  gathering and compiling all that medical information into a usable nugget and then presenting concise advice and options to our patients.  Many times this clinical ‘pearl’ cannot be achieved in one 15 minute visit, and develops over time as a relationship is formed and symptoms or circumstances evolve and change.  Each person’s situation is unique and another patient’s experience may be completely different.  For example, sinus or nasal surgery is not the same experience for everyone.  One person may have more extensive disease or a complicated infection that required more surgery.  Another patient may need a simple septoplasty or turbinate procedure with no sinus involvement at all, or someone else might want a rhinoplasty which involves only the outside of the nose.

Technology has also allowed for tremendous advancements so someone’s experience 10 or even 5 years ago with the same exact procedure may not apply today.

For example, most of our thyroid surgeries take 45 to 60 minutes as an outpatient procedure (same day surgery) with only 3-5 days of rest, versus a 3 or 4 hour procedure with 2-3 day hospitalization and 2 weeks rest just a decade or so ago.  Please use Dr Google cautiously and carefully to gather information.  Steer clear of ‘chat rooms’ and stories posted by individuals who may be venting or disgruntled.  Stick with official academic, university, or national organization websites.  Our AAO-HNS Academy website entnet.org has great content and our practice website lakeside-ent.com has links to several useful official websites. While these and other sites may allow you to ask relevant questions or address something your doctor did not think of, in general remember to take online content with a grain of salt.  Dr Google is neither a ‘good doc’ nor a ‘bad doc’; rather a ‘new doctor’ who lacks the knowledge filter of a physician with years of training and real patient experience.  We as clinicians are here to partner with you to sort through the information and help you make good medical decisions!

—Amy Saleh MD