Why do doctors HATE ‘Dr. Google’?


We’ve all come across medical information  on the Web, which we know is dubious. A Wall Street Journal examination found Facebook Inc. and YouTube are being flooded with scientifically dubious and potentially harmful information about alternative cancer treatments, which sometimes gets viewed millions of times.

At last, both companies say they are taking steps to curb such accounts. Facebook last month changed its News Feed algorithms to reduce promotion of posts promising miracle cures or flogging health services, a move that will reduce the number of times they pop up.

Case study

But I doubt if this will stop doctors sneering at us patients, when we ask about legitimate concerns.  Betty had been treated at a cancer hospital that classes itself ‘world famous’.  When she had worrying symptoms she was sure were a result of long-term side effects from her treatment, hospital doctors pooh poohed this.  So she Googled ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncologists) website, and sure enough – there were her symptoms.   ASCO suggested these could be Neuropathy.  Googling some more, and this time looking on MD Anderson and Dana-Farber’s websites, these world-respected hospitals agreed with ASCO.

Reluctantly, her Olncologist looked at the print-outs she produced (but kept them) and now there is a large notice in their Outpatients alerting patients  to the symptoms.

They think patients are stupid

Hands on hips. the Nurse looked at me with scorn:  “you are ONLY a patient” she spat at me.  Boy, did I enjoy proving to her that she had got it all wrong, and I needed to be listened to.  Abroad, I found doctors and nurses listen to their patients.  Here in UK we are stuck on an all-purpose one-size-fits-all conveyor belt, and woe betide us if we don’t conform.

If we don’t follow the ‘usual’ pattern, then we get spun around in a circle of ‘tests. where nothing seems to come up with an answer.  So we dive into the Google minefield, and with luck and persistence, we might come up with the answer.

But do doctors want to listen?  No.

It wasn’t like this

I am old enough to remember Matron, and when Sister was seen in the ward, not stuck in front of a computer screen in her office.  Doctors in charge of your treatment came round and actually listened to you – and had time to listen to questions.  Yes, medicine was much simpler, but then the doctors were working with you to find out what worked – rather than relying on NICE guidance or some other conveyor belt delivering treatment.

So don’t blame patients if we turn to Dr. Google to find answers.  I’ve found the Internet very helpful, but treat it with common sense, and don’t get sucked in by claims of miracle cures etc. I think I am savvy enough to realise that if it sounds too good to be true, it is.  But then that’s common sense. 


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