Leader comment: The pitfalls of consulting Dr Google

A doctor who's never too busy to see you, whose advice is always on offer but who can pander to your worst fears '“ meet 'Dr Google'.
GPs can get frustrated if people attempt self-diagnosis on the internetGPs can get frustrated if people attempt self-diagnosis on the internet
GPs can get frustrated if people attempt self-diagnosis on the internet

The search engine is a portal to advice on every medical condition known to science – supplied by trustworthy sources like the NHS, well-meaning amateurs and downright quacks.

The internet was always going to lead to a new condition – cyberchondria – that would try the patience of our GPs as perfectly healthy people convince themselves they are terribly sick patients and demand treatment, increasing the pressure on our ailing NHS.

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Doctors may tear their hair out when faced with the latest deluge of the worried well, but greater knowledge is a good thing and online health advice will have certainly saved lives.

What we can all do to make things better for our surgeries is ensure that when we do consult Dr Google, we seek opinions from the NHS and other reputable websites, read them carefully and reflect on what is said.

And, if we are concerned about something we’ve read online, it might be best to call NHS 24 first.

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