BANGALORE: Dr Paul was ecstatic to receive his new patient Sourav, a software engineer in his plush chamber. His new patient seemed to be very well informed about his own disease, symptoms and manifestation. Dr Paul remained impressed through out the discussion until they reached the final stage where he found out his patient has been treating himself till now with the wrong medicines and is now scared of the side effects. That is why Sourav had come to see him.
Dr Paul recalls the incident with considerable horror, “While the world wide web contains an ocean of information on health topics and many of them are written by eminent physicists too, however, there are numerous articles posted by amateurs which often posses only half baked or far from the fact information. Also due to the nature of the web, other than a few sites most do not have a moderation done before posting of articles — hence a rise of a pool of conflicting opinions on health issues, symptoms and treatments.”
While its great to be well informed but with dangers of unscreened information and hence self treatment based on such information can be extremely fatal. One common example is the use of pain killers. Most people search and find, a list of thousands of painkiller names online, and usually buy the ones over the counter which they have found to have the most number of good reviews online.
However, reality is if one is suffering from any renal symptoms, he has just a couple of choices available to him from the long list of painkillers. While very few painkillers are suitable for him to consume, others may worsen his
Many doctors warn patients that they have to be careful while referring for health information on the Web.
“Keeping oneself well versed is a good thing when it comes to procuring information about illness from the net. Nearly 20 per cent of patients come with full fledged information on their diseases and treatment. However, this access to information sometimes leads to confusion which comes in the way of the decision making process”, said Dr Kumar Swamy, consultant radiation oncologist, HCG Ltd.
He further added that no one can have control over this kind of readily available information on web. If the decision is based on the information available online, they are usually taken in a hurry without any medical advice. Such moves could be detrimental at times. But if one looks out for standards site that is the government approved it could also be beneficial.
Dr Sudarshan Ballal, medical director, Manipal Hospital echoes the same and says, “Though the health-related information on the world wide web is a good resource of information, but at the same time the doctor should also be consulted before taking any medication or treatment.”