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adowton's picture

Medicine on the internet

 I think this is a really interesting issue. On the one hand, many valid assertions were made about the benefits of sites such as Web MD and the mayo clinic website. People without health insurance at least have some avenue to turn to in the event of ailment (although, if a person without health insurance is truly ill, needing critical or chronic care, I doubt the efficacy of self-treatment via the web), it is a beneficial resource for people to investigate diagnoses presented to them by a real live clinician, it might perhaps provide people downplaying their illness with an incentive to be see etc. So yes, for these reasons I think such sites can be beneficial. I also think they have the power to be harmful. The issue of self-medication came up in class and I am still vehemently against it. I think that the one downfall of these online medicine sites is that they are not always correct, and people can end up doing themselves great harm as a result of diagnosing themselves on Web MD, and then purchasing  medications for it online. I know that some people are saying that doctors are not always correct either, and this is true. However, I think that physicians are taught how to take a history, perform a physical exam, and look at the whole picture for a reason: this works! I firmly believe that typing the symptoms you believe to be important into a web search is not as comprehensive of a workup as is needed in some medical situations.



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