Sometimes you can’t trust Dr. Google

More on being a cyberchondriac:

The young woman waiting to be examined by Dr. Minerva Santos in her Yorktown office was crying hysterically. “What is it?” Santos asked her. “What’s the matter?”

The woman told Santos that she had been up all night, sure that her abdominal pain was pancreatic cancer.

How did she reach that awful conclusion?

A consultation with Dr. Google.

An examination by Dr. Santos revealed the real illness -— constipation.

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  • SarahW

    As long as ol’ Dr. Santos realizes constipation is not so much a “disease” as a clue that must be taken in context, and took a good history and did a good exam, I don’t have a problem with a Dr. remarking on the downside of patients who read too much.

    But the endocrinologist is full of crap. He said as a blanket statement:

    Then there are articles online telling patients that they can have a normal thyroid blood test and still have a thyroid problem. That is not true.

    Um, hey doc, why don’t you tell that to all your euthryroid cancer patients (with thyroid cancer). And your patients with, say, Hashimoto’s (perhaps undiganosed, if they are his patients) who go through cycles amd stages of thyroid dsyfunction with periods of a euthyroid state between cycles of hyperthyroid and hypothroid states.

    And supposing he meant to limit his remarks to fatties who thing they have an underactive thyroid, but who have thryroid test results within the normal reference range, he would do well to consider both that TSH normality for an individual can not be confused with a reference range applying to a population group, and that ideal TSH for an individual can be very specific to the indvidual and must be correlated with the clinical picture…

    AND also remind himself that the higher end of the reference range nay be out of date depending on the laboratory (some still have 5 as the end of the normal reference range)
    , AND remind himself that patients at the higher end of the more accepted normal range (3) are out of what is ideal for most individuals and their clinical picture should not be excluded from consideration.

    My thryroid function is perfect, and yet I am in the process of deciding whether I get repeat biopsies and ultrasound for a nodule that is clinically suspicious but had a benign appearing cytology (though with a scanty sample), or just go ahead and have the lobe yanked.

    I’d like that doc to tell me my pain, hoarseness and trouble swallowing because of that lesion are not a problem.

    1:06 PM

  • Jordan

    I hate to say it but I have used Dr. Google before…..Thankfully I have a little training in wading through the junk!

  • Anonymous

    If you have a relatively rare condition then you don’t have much of a choice. Case in point – premature ovarian failure. It often takes doctors years to diagnose it (“it is just stress”), even though there is a 100% accurate blood test available (ok, if done twice; otherwise, it can give a false negative, but it doesn’t give false positives – low estradiol and high FSH can mean only one thing, even if you are 21). And when they finally diagnose it, they often don’t know what to do with it. Sometimes they even give you a little handout about menopause intended for women in their 50s. An uplifting reading for a 20- or a 30- something woman.

    NIH website with downloadable brochure or support groups beat the information such women get from their doctor(s) any day. Wish google had been available when I first started to have 2- and 3- months delays.

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