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Handling Patients Who Use Dr. Google



Many people rely on Google for everyday questions. People can find food nearby, learn how to take care of their new indoor plant, and even find information on medical questions. One of the great things about Google is that there is seemingly endless information. However, that is also the downfall. You can never be sure what you find is 100% accurate. Information, whether it has to do with something important like healthcare or other, is typically not verified.


Regardless, people still attempt to self-diagnose themselves using Google. They search their symptoms, find something that seems similar, and they stick to it. Although Google seems to know all the answers, it does not; nor can it replace the knowledge of a healthcare professional.


The Problem with a Google Diagnosis

When patients use Google to look up their symptoms, they’re looking for a quick answer. They want to self-diagnose themselves. While Google can help give patients some insight into their condition, it cannot tell the whole story.


Google Is Not a Doctor

Trying to self-diagnose oneself via information found on Google will never be as accurate as a diagnosis from a healthcare professional. Dentists go through years of training. They have clinical experience, first-hand knowledge, and critical thinking abilities that cannot be replicated by the search engine.


Anybody Can Post Information on the Web

Any person can create a website or post on forums acting as a credible source. However, many charlatans exist online. People post information as though they were experts, without having firsthand knowledge. It’s very difficult to know what is and is not true on the internet.


Self-Diagnosis Can Be Dangerous

Patients who self-diagnose from Google may do so incorrectly. They cannot be certain as to what their condition or issue is. When they’re wrong, and follow advice from Google, they could end up causing worse damage or injury to themselves.


Dealing with Patients Who Use Google

As a dental professional, you may encounter patients who consult Dr. Google often. They come into the office with an idea stuck in their head as to what is wrong. This can be frustrating and distracting for professionals. However, as a professional, you need to stay calm and understand that patients want an answer. They are not trying to undermine your expertise and training.


When a patient brings up something they read on Google, do not brush it off. Rather, try to respect their self-research while letting them know you’ll make a diagnosis based on your experience and training. You want your patients to know that you hear out their ideas. At the same time, you can explain how self-diagnosing may be harmful, and that although they found something on Google, it is still smart to seek help from a professional.


To make them feel included, you can tell patients what you look at or what helps determine your diagnosis. Doing so makes your patient feel involved and as though you respect them and their knowledge about the condition.

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