Self-Diagnosis or Second Opinion?

Article

There is a lot of information out there and finding it is easy. But finding the right information is not so easy. You have to know how to look for it.

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There is a lot of information out there and finding it is easy. But finding the information is not so easy. You have to know how to look for it. These days kids are learning to use the computer keyboard at the same time they are learning to use a fork and knife to eat. So navigating the internet is just common sense. But for experienced and long-practicing doctors, it must have been a rude awakening when suddenly their patients started talking back and, worse yet, self-diagnosing.

“I have Restless Legs Syndrome, you need to give me a prescription for Requip.”

“I wanted to ask if Lunesta is right for me.”

“I was told to ask my doctor about the purple pill.”

For a long time physicians were the main authority figure in medicine. Patients used to debate getting a second opinion, but today they have 40 opinions right under their fingertips. So can that person who slaved away to put those two sacred letters M and D behind their name ever be replaced? No, not quite. Because even if the facts of medicine have become readily available to all, there is no substitute for the art of medicine.

By no means can technology make face-to-face time with a doctor obsolete. There is no substitute for the trained eye that reviews test results, the doctor who can look at a patient and tell if they are afraid to tell the truth, or the skill of interpretation and reading between the lines, that makes up the art of medicine.

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Recently I became incredibly sick. I had a high fever. None of my food stayed in my stomach for more than 30 minutes. My body was sore, my joints hurt and my neck was so stiff that turning my head was an ordeal. I would have gone to see my doctor, except that I was in and would not be returning home to for another two days.

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So I did the next best thing without having to deal with strangers in a or going to the hospital—I never even left my room. I just went to my computer, logged onto the internet and found a site that allowed me to enter my symptoms and be diagnosed. Check a couple of boxes, click on ‘Submit,’ and the diagnosis was... polio.I was diagnosed with polio!

At first I didn’t know what to make of the result.“I’m pretty sure I was vaccinated for that,” I told myself. So I interpreted that the internet was telling me laughter is the best medicine.And that is exactly what I did.I laughed at the diagnosis. Then I took an Advil and slept for a day.

I’m fine now.

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