Can patients / families help doctors with Internet researching?

Can patients / families help doctors with Internet researching?

Some time back we had a blog post – When Patients Google

We had mentioned about how concerned doctors were about the misinformation that they could pick up – and rightly so. But, there are times when Internet research by the patient (or family member) can make a huge difference. Here is an excerpt from a Facebook post by Dr Sakthi (story taken with his permission)


Last weekend, an anxious couple met me for a consult. They had travelled 150km to meet me.
The previous day, the mother, after picking up her daughter from school, noticed that the girl’s innerwear was bloodstained. She consulted a Gynecologist who did some tests and then asked them to see an Endocrinologist. That brought them to me. I arrived at a diagnosis – severe primary hypothyroidism.

Just as I was about to explain this to the parents, the mother asked:

“Doctor, have you heard about a syndrome called Van Wyk Grumbach syndrome? Could my child have it? I browsed through the net after we got the reports and this condition seemed to match well. What do you think Doctor? I asked few of my Doctor friends and they had no idea.”

And… she was right! I then explained how it could be resolved with thyroid supplementation and their young girl would be fine soon


Internet searching for health information is extremely common and is never going to stop. There is need for hard work to tackle problems that emerge with this activity.

A system by which educated consumers can understand and be trained to know:

  1. The difference between reliable resources and junk resources
  2. How to find relevant information and what is an “evidence based resource”
  3. How to discuss the information found, with the doctor, keeping in mind time constraints
  4. Most importantly – how to be responsible for one’s own decisions – especially if one wants to do something different from what the treating doctor recommends

And in the health professions we need big changes

  1. Training (from the UG days) in:
  • Understanding authentic vs non-authentic resources, predatory and cloned journals
  • Searching quickly for reliable information
  • Finding the best available evidence
  1. Recognizing the urgent need for trained “informationists” to help both – the health professionals and patients / consumers to search for reliable information as well as evidence based information.
  2. Create such a set of informationists – see a poster we presented at a conference

We at QMed had delivered a few consumer health lectures, which were very well received. Sadly we could not sustain this activity. I dream of a day when this becomes a reality – where doctors, patients and librarians can research together for great patient outcomes! I know it is quite some time away.

In the meantime we continue our efforts to create a generation of health professionals who know how to search for evidence and how to find needles in haystacks. We have made good progress in this.

Make a donation to us. When you donate, you are contributing to a future with evidence based healthcare. With support we may actually find solutions to doctors and patients working together for better health of the population at large.

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