Putting the Online Diagnosis in Perspective

We’ve all looked up medical information on the internet.  Whatever the symptoms, people often take to their computer and begin what is often a futile and possibly dangerous attempt at diagnosing conditions from which they, friends or family members suffer.  In many cases, the information gathered is entirely off point, inaccurate or misunderstood by the web surfer; and may precipitate unnecessary action or dangerous inaction on the part of the patient.  A new study published in the British Medical Journal stated that self-diagnosis via the internet can be at best a waste of time and money, and at worst may endanger lives.

Researchers evaluated 23 online and mobile applications patients most frequently use to self-diagnose.   Information provided by all 23 sources was inaccurate to some degree. Applications provided a correct diagnosis only one third of the time.  It was also found that generally, websites and their associated applications were better at diagnosing common and typically less significant medical conditions rather than more serious and/or unusual ailments.

Researchers and physicians alike believe such research applications have their place, but it is extremely limited. Jeremy Wyatt, a researcher at the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences in the U.K. stated simply, “Avoid just putting your symptoms into Google; use a reliable online symptom checking tool.” As for more severe symptoms, such as fever or excessive bleeding, Wyatt suggested people “Don’t waste your time surfing, call 911.”

Remember, only a licensed physician or other qualified healthcare provider can evaluate your symptoms and provide or recommend appropriate treatment options.  However, if your healthcare provider renders an inaccurate diagnosis or administers treatment which does not comport with the standards of care accepted and practiced within the medical community, and such treatment results in injury, you may be entitled to pursue claims against them. For more information about medical malpractice and missed or incorrect diagnosis, contact the New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari at 973-845-4421.

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