Thursday, June 2, 2011


In this day and age of technology at our fingertips, finding an answer to any question is a GOOGLE away.

Which is actually not bad, considering that the trip to the library eons ago took up a lot of wasteful time in search for the answers to our questions.

But does GOOGLING a query provide the accurate answer?

Let me zero in on the perfect example.

A few days ago, a friend on Facebook had "shouted out" that her family would be traveling soon and that they would need to bring their 1 year old child. The mother was apprehensive about the travel ahead and that the child may become eventually "fuzzy" during the long haul. As in any FB "shout-outs", a comment thread follows.

And so the "friends" began providing comments: "enjoy the trip", "put a pacifier", "let her drink milk", and so on and so forth and I provided my ten cents worth of consult over FB as well - "give her 5ml of Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) since that's over the counter 30 minutes prior to the trip."

Walanghiya!!! You should read the comment thread that came after my comment from the do-gooders: "don't give benadryl and then there's suddenly a link from on the cons of giving benadryl!". The trail doesn't end there. The next suggestion you read is "give ibuprofen instead. Then another link to another website about what to give your kids if you're traveling by air". Then another suggestion crops up "give acetaminophen (paracetamol) during the trip. it's not advisable to give drugs to kids as they are harmful." Then you see another link somewhere from another God-forsaken site. Finally, there's a comment that "consult your pediatrician about the Benadryl. It's not good."

I felt tempted to agitate the comment thread, but decided against it for fear of harming the ignorant few.

I believe that while technology has changed the landscape in the search for answers to queries on the information highway, it has also been abused by people who "google" and pass on the "found" answers to others as the "definite remedy to the malady". This is most commonly seen in the medical field, but encompasses all - from entertainment to fashion to gossip to politics to science. What I cannot stand actually are people who are not in any capacity authorized to provide unsolicited advise to others. For example, when someone asks you what is atopic dermatitis, if you're not a doctor, do not attempt to google atopic dermatitis and then pass on the information link and say voila - there's the answer to the question and then pat yourself on the back. You have no idea how seriously dangerous information is in the wrong hands. Unless you are licensed to give a professional opinion on something as ginormous as the life of someone, you should not be Miss Do-Good-Know-it-All answering other people's concerns. You have no business here and should try to get a life! You can experiment on your children or next of kin for all I care (and I seriously pity your whole family with having to live up with your inanities).

And for discussion sake, I will not give the pros and cons of dosing a kid with diphenhydramine on the flight, but would prefer that the 15 hour trip be a restful one for both the parents and the child. After all, it's not their friend that will be carrying the "fuzzy baby" on the lap during the whole flight!

I have a lot of patients parents that come up to me and ask me if the information that is passed on to them as a link is true or not, or that she heard a colleague telling her that my prescription may be harmful to her child, or that she read somewhere that a certain vaccine purportedly has a link to Autism, and so on and so forth. I discuss with them all the issues in a very professional manner. And no, I really do not mind discussing the concerns with them because they have the right to know. Full disclosure and a healthy professional discussion after seeing the patient (even if they have a whole folder or downloaded information) is the right of every patient to quality health care. It is the patients' rights to search and read up on their diseases and the treatment options to it. These rights should extend to the clinic office where the parents discuss these with their health care provider, with the latter providing treatment options where the benefits outweigh the risks. If you have a good doctor, he/she should be capable of answering the questions you post spontaneously at the clinic!

It is inappropriate that the discussion includes a third party who happens to have no professional training nor experience on treating patients or any other credentials to a well informed discussion except the fact that that person is keen in the art of googling. A second opinion means seeking the advice of another professional adept in that field of expertise of concern. It does not mean that you ask your hair stylist on why, for heavens sake, you should not put a steroid cream on the atopic patch of your child. Wala akong pakialam sa payo o kuro-kuro ng manicurista mo!

With that said, let me remind everyone that googling information is an FYI. It does not provide the absolute solution to the problem, especially when it comes to diagnosing or treating patients. It is infuriating that there are so many wannabes that need to realize that while they are probably techie experts in this age of information technology, they are not cerebrally fit to provide opinions that should be left alone to professional providers. And while you can pass on some information, you need to be trained to discern what is correct and what is misinformation. After all, not everything googled is correct!

If you feel you're alluded to in this blogpost and don't get the point, I think you should just roll over and die. The world would be a better place if we googled you had passed away.

No comments: