“Dr. Google” Misses the Mark Most of the Time


In the age of the Internet, all too often we seek the medical opinion of “Dr. Google” prior to obtaining a medical evaluation and treatment recommendations. Sometimes, “Dr. Google” can accurately predict the cause of your problem; but more often than not, its algorithm formula misses the mark. In fact, the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that 39% of all Internet searches are related to medical topics or conditions. Of those searches, 82% of the medical information was gathered from either Google, Bing, or Yahoo, whereas only 13% of the medical information was gathered from an actual medical website like the Hughston Health Alert or WebMD. Furthermore, the Pew Research Center found that only 46% of all people who decided that they had a medical problem actually sought the opinion of a medical professional. Meanwhile, another 38% of respondents initially self-diagnosed and self-administered the treatment “Dr. Google” suggested. Of the 46% of people who ended up going to the doctor’s office for evaluation, only 41% of them found that their Internet diagnosis was correct.


With this information in mind, how can the doctor-patient visit be optimized? Upon intake (with the doctor’s assistant) for your appointment, reveal to the assistant your beliefs about what your Internet research has concluded. It’s your doctor’s job to listen. Once you have revealed your beliefs…sit back, relax, and learn what your doctor’s years of medical training and experience can teach you. The reality is almost all medical conditions are “cause and effect” scenarios. Diagnosing the “effect,” or confirming the reason you are here is the easy part. Determining the “cause” of why you acquired this “effect” is what you really want to know. This breadth of knowledge is power.


It helps if you can get answers and take ownership of these questions:

What is it?

What’s the source?

Why did it happen?

What should I do now?

Why would I decide for or against surgical treatment?


All this information undoubtedly will be a lot to take in. It is also a lot for the doctor to get through. As such, inquire if there are summary handouts for you to review. Lastly, ask your doctor which websites he or she feels are the most reliable sources to learn more about your medical condition. Talk to your doctor because “Dr. Google” gets it wrong most of the time.


Author: Marc A. Tressler, DO | Hughston Clinic Orthopaedics, Hendersonville, TN