Caution Is Advised If You Page Dr. Google

Here is some great information regarding a very well know topic, “googling” your own diagnoses. I was sent this letter from Premier Homecare Services, originally posted by News Canada. I just had to share this with you!

(NC) As many as 64% of Canadians who are online use the Internet to search for health information, a statistic reported from a recent survey.
But should we listen to Dr. Google?

Many websites can be a source of useful information on conditions, treatments and procedures. That’s all part of being an informed health care consumer. Yet web searches should add to and not replace the knowledge of your health care professional.

“Professionals help you make the best choices for your health, which can include understanding and putting in perspective the information you access,” says Marshall Moleschi, president of the Federation of Health Regulatory Colleges of Ontario. FHRCO includes 23 colleges, and holds its nearly 300,000 member professionals accountable for their conduct and practice.

More information is available at

Seeking health information online without seeing a health care professional presents the risk of becoming a “cyberchondriac”. That’s where a search of your symptoms matches any one of several ailments. Moleschi cautions that it’s easy to take online health care information out of context or you can easily self-diagnose in error.

To be genuinely well-informed, Moleschi advises the following steps:

  • Before a health care appointment think about everything you want to discuss. Here’s where going online can help you understand a health matter, or prepare questions for your health care professional.
  • During an appointment be clear about your health needs and goals. Don’t be afraid to raise information you’ve found online. However, listen to your care provider’s opinion, which is based on their professional knowledge, skills and judgment. If you’re unclear about anything, keep asking questions and have the professional explain using plain language.
  • After an appointment follow-up as recommended, whether that is a course of action, a test or a visit to another health care specialist. If you do go online for health care information, how can you be confident in what you find?  First, consider the source. Visit sites created by recognized experts and organizations, like hospitals, non-profit disease associations, and government bodies (e.g. Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Public Health Agency of Canada). Also, watch for signs that the site has a built-in bias. For example, be wary of a website that promotes a miracle cure with shaky scientific evidence, or that tries to steer you away from health care professionals. “The health care professionals of each college bring their education, background and the weight of standards governed by regulations,” reminds Moleschi. “Well-informed patients can lead to better health outcomes, so by all means Google – but make sure you discuss your Google findings with your health care professional too.”

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