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Visiting Doctor Google.

Anyone who has tried knows what the risk is.
You type in a symptom, let's say a headache, some further details, such as a young age, perhaps the hypothesis of a disease that one would like to drive out of one's mind, let's say stroke; click «search with Google» and the nightmare begins: dozens of pages of medical sites, stories of surviving patients, relatives of non-surviving patients…
Those who tend to hypochondria should not fall into the temptation of looking for medical information on the internet to clarify their ideas on their symptoms, on the meaning of an abnormal analysis value or on some medical big word whose meaning they are not sure.
Doctor Google has several merits, but not that of being reassuring, as an English journalist joked.
However, if the research is done with common sense, and the results interpreted with the same judgment, it can work: for better or for worse, many have happened to get their diagnosis on the internet before going to the doctor.
Now this conclusion is documented by a study to which the British Medical Journal has dedicated the cover: Google gets the diagnosis right in over half of the cases.
Two Australian researchers from the University of Brisbane did the test.
They selected 26 real patient case reports from those published each week by the New England Journal of Medicine to test the diagnostic skills of its readers. Without looking at the final diagnosis, the researchers Googled three to five words about the most prominent symptoms in each case.
Then they chose from the pages presented by Google the diagnoses that best seemed to match the symptoms and compared them with the real ones described in the medical journal.
In 15 out of 26 cases, Google got it right, correctly diagnosing diseases such as infective endocarditis, lymphoma or cat-scratch disease.
Many experts have warned about the risks associated with using the internet.
Rivers of ink have been written about the difficulty of discerning serious information from the tide of rubbish that circulates there, especially on the subject of medicine.
The experiment of the Australian researchers goes against the tide.
It is undeniable that, thanks to Google, "useful information even on the rarest syndrome can be found and digested in a few minutes" write the researchers.
Their advice, however, concerns doctors, who have the knowledge to evaluate reliable information: "Our study suggests that in difficult diagnostic situations, it is often useful to 'Googling' in search of a diagnosis".
Patients, even experienced ones, do so at their own peril.
from “www.panorama.it”



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Fedaiisf Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane degli Informatori Scientifici del Farmaco e del Parafarmaco