Expert Health Articles

The Dangers of Dr. Google

Christian Steiner

Christian Steiner, MD

Psychiatric Center of Northwest Ohio

In this day and age of limitless information it’s very easy for anyone to collect essentially any type of information and literally have it in the palm of their hand. Knowledge becomes power and can easily lead to overconfidence in any subject. Do a Google search for “Pinterest Fails” and see where overconfidence gained from rapid information and no technical backing can land you.   

A person can go online and look up the blueprints of one of the Apollo space crafts and see just exactly how they mounted the engines and thrusters to the spacecraft but that does not mean that anyone can build a space shuttle. We can also look up signs and symptoms of a disease and then postulate that we do in fact have Kuru, when in fact all we really have is a tension headache from staring down at our cellphone screen too often. 

Ok, now that you have put your cellphone down and realized just what kuru is and how absurd that idea is; let’s talk about the relationship between you and your physician or nurse practitioner. You trust this person enough that you and your insurance company pay a professional fee to seek their expert opinion. Physicians typically go to school for a four year bachelor’s degree, four years of Medical School and then three to eight years of residency and fellowship. Why then would you find it necessary to override their expert opinion with information from a website that has blinking video ads trying to get you to buy something that could improve your libido or make your hair grow back. Certainly, reading information from a reputable source such as a major health system, University or government agency and relaying questions from that to your physician is within reason but deciding to stop taking a medication because you read that someone, who likely is writing their complaint about said medication while in their underwear, who had a reaction is not well founded.