How do we know what to believe about anything? In times past we read books, we took classes, we spoke to experts. These days? These days we do the same, but we also search the Internet. And we seem to do it with special fervor when it comes to questions about our health.
I can’t throw any stones here. Even a physician has knowledge that is limited to his or her specialty, or personal experience. (And even if I had kept all of my textbooks, they would be woefully out of date by now.) So, from time to time, I’ve searched the Internet for answers to questions.
Not only for myself and my family, but sometimes even when working. It’s not unusual for a patient to tell me about their chronic condition, only for me to discover that I have no idea what the syndrome actually is. Some of these diseases require specialized care and leave me scratching my head, so it’s off to the Web I go. Then, once I know enough not to sound entirely ignorant, I try to call their doctor to ask what to do next. Furthermore, new drugs and devices are constantly hitting the market, and I am not ashamed to say that I have to look many of them up! Emergency medicine physicians like myself are generalists, and we know when to cry “uncle.”Your patients are rating you online: How to respond. Manage your online reputation: A social media guide. Find out how.