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5 Internet Search Tips for Reliable Medical Information

The House Call Doctor has 5 easy tips to help you search for reliable sources of medical information on the internet.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
October 11, 2012
Episode #078

Page 1 of 2

I was speaking to Tech Talker, the latest addition to the Quick and Dirty Tips team, and we’ve both noticed how much medical information there is on the web. I find that that more and more of my patients rely on the internet for their health info prior to seeing me in the office.  That is just the reality of living in our internet-perusing, Google-searching, mouse-clicking world. Whether it’s to find an old flame on Facebook, or to self-diagnose our ailments, internet searching is now second nature to most of us.

“I had some abdominal pain, so I Googled it last night, and it said I have cancer, Doc!”

“No way am I getting that flu shot – I saw that cheerleader video on YouTube!”

“I’ve had this back pain for two weeks, and this website says I need an MRI.  Will you order me one, Doc?”

Healthcare is changing and growing alongside technology.  It’s just a sign of the times, and I have come to truly embrace this new challenge.  I love the fact that my patients yearn to learn more about their health conditions.  The more medical knowledge they obtain, the better equipped they will be to take care of themselves. 

Unfortunately, it turns out that many of my patients are perusing rather unreliable websites, and that is my only hesitation with this new internet age. What makes me occasionally shudder is when a patient convinces themselves that they have an incurable disease because of something they read from an unreliable source.  Remember: the internet is completely unverified. Anyone can post anything they please, and they may have absolutely zero medical background. 

So today, I’d like to share my 5 tips for perusing the internet to find reliable medical information.

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5 Tips for Perusing the Internet

Tip #1:  Avoid “.com” Websites

Be wary of any medical websites that end in “.com,” as these tend to come from less reliable and unverified sources. They also often have advertisements and their goal is to make money off of the reader who may intentionally or accidentally click on an ad.  Instead, opt for websites that end in “.org” or “.gov” for your health information.

Here’s a list of websites that I recommend to my own patients as a more reliable source of medical information:

www.familydoctor.org

www.cdc.gov

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/

www.nih.gov

www.healthfinder.gov

www.nlm.nih.gov

http://www.who.int/en/

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