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When Dr Google gets in the way

Providing treatment you don’t believe is necessary could put you at risk of a complaint or clinical negligence claim. Dr Gabrielle Pendlebury looks at the medico-legal risks involved and how you can manage a patient’s expectations to make them satisfied.

The internet provides unfettered access to a wealth of knowledge. A recent study in Belgium indicated that searching the internet for health information or using ‘Dr Google’ can have a positive impact on the doctor-patient relationship, as a result of a better mutual understanding.

Dr GoogleA YouGov survey of over 2,000 British adults, commissioned by Medical Protection, showed that 47% of the public have searched online for their symptoms and a possible diagnosis before seeing their doctor. One in five of those surveyed (2%) admitted that they had then challenged their doctor’s diagnosis.

While it is positive that patients are taking a more active role in their healthcare, it can present some challenges for doctors.

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