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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Doctors who Google

There is an interesting article in TechDirt entitled, Google As Your Backup Brain.

The article discusses how, more and more, we're allowing Google to handle little details of our lives. As a simple example, I have practically stopped using a phone book since Google does many of the same functions very nicely for me. Sometimes, better.

Letting Google (or other search engines, of course) sweat the little details could mean more efficient use of the brain on bigger, more important things. However, as the article points out, the downside is that this "collective" brain is fed information from all sorts of unreliable sources as well – and so anyone using it as a tool needs to learn to have a healthy skepticism filter in place.

The article makes a small mention that, "Even some doctors are found trying to diagnose with the aid of Google." I've heard this before, but have yet to see any real evidence that this is occurring. As expected, even though this wasn't the main point of the article, this is what many of the comments focus on.

While I think it's okay to rely on Google for things like phone numbers, I don't think it's reliable enough to lead doctors, or anyone for that matter, to a medical diagnoses.

But, now I wonder if my mother's doctor has done some Googling as to my mother's condition. It seems like so much of what she does for my mom is just guessing, experimenting, taking shots in the dark. Well, if she hasn't, maybe she should.

Posted by Marie at December 20, 2005 1:02 AM


I find Google and the web a mixed bag for medical information. The credentials of a site is always an issue as is the independence of the information. Many times it just appears that the same info is copied from one place to the next. But you can easily get a boatload of info. Filtering it all is the hard part.

Posted by: Kem White at December 20, 2005 6:22 AM

I read an article about doctors entering symptoms in Google and giving diagnoses based on the search!

Posted by: ambulance doc at January 15, 2006 3:33 PM