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Should You Get Medical Information from the Internet?

Learn how to discuss medical information from the Internet without getting dirty looks from your doctor.

By
Rob Lamberts, MD,
June 18, 2009
Episode #001

Page 1 of 3

So who the heck is Dr. Rob? I am a real doctor who spends most of my day seeing real patients, I am trained in both internal medicine and pediatrics, and my name really is Dr. Rob.

And what the heck is the House Call Doc podcast? It’s your chance to get answers to your burning questions about anything to do with medicine. I’ll do my best to answer them in a way that is both understandable and entertaining.

Let me remind you that this podcast is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide you with medical advice or recommendations for treatment.  My goal is to add to your medical knowledge and translate some of the weird medical stuff you hear, so your medical care will be more fruitful.  I don’t intend to replace your doctor; he or she is the one you should always consult about your own medical condition.

Getting Medical Information Online

What a perfect lead-in for today’s subject! Today I am going to address the issue of how you should handle medical information you get from the Internet (or from strange doctors on podcasts). Now that I do this podcast, this subject is very important to me. I can picture my listeners going into the doctor’s office and saying “Doctor, I listen to the House Call Doc podcast and he told me that I need to be on cholesterol medication. He told me to ask my doctor if “Cholesterol B Gone” is right for me!”

Then I can picture a mob of angry doctors with torches coming up to my office demanding that my staff let me out so they can do something terrible to me (like a colonoscopy).

I shudder at the thought. Please don’t do that.

This topic also is significant to me because I am a doctor in real life. I spend most of my working hours seeing patients, some of whom get their medical information from TV commercials, soap operas, and websites like “Colonics R Us” and Doctorsareevil.com. I’ve gotten used to it, but some people push me pretty hard. How I react to this information—even if it comes from yesterday’s episode of General Hospital—depends on how you, the patient present it to me. Right or wrong, you’ll have more success with your doctor if you present this information in a certain way.

So what’s the best way to present information like this? Here are my quick and dirty tips for approaching your unsuspecting doctor with your new-found knowledge:

Tip #1: Do It

Yes, you should bring up your concerns and questions about your care. Remember that it’s your health and you are paying for the visit. The goal is to get the best medical information, and shocking as it sounds, doctors don’t know everything. Better information means better care, no matter where the information comes from.

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