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These Doctors Say Googling Your Symptoms Is Actually Fine

Sometimes they're using it, too.

We’ve all heard the jokes about people typing their symptoms into WebMD, only to be told that their sniffles are actually an incurable disease. While this is rarely the case, web searches can actually be a helpful resource for patients – and doctors. A physician recently shared an image that shames patients for comparing their internet research to doctors’ years of education, and other doctors jumped in to set the record straight. Turns out, if you google your own symptoms or the symptoms of your sick kid, you’re fine.

The image, shared on Twitter by endocrinologist Iris Thiele Isip Tan MD, shows a poster that reads: “Medicine is learnt at medical schools over a period of 10 years and not at Google over 10 minutes.” Tan’s caption calls out the dangers of such a message. “When will they understand that the public knows this but will STILL Google?!” she writes. “This is NOT how we should address this.” She later added: “I hope to NEVER see a similar poster being shared/liked by colleagues. I tweeted this because I support patients who Google.”

Fellow physician Laura Dorwart, Ph.D. chimed in with her support of Tan’s viewpoint. “I regularly saw physicians Google My infant’s lung condition right in front of me, so it can’t be all bad…” she wrote.

Other parents also shared their stories of how internet research was a key part of their child’s diagnosis. “Wow when my daughter was diagnosed with a rare disease yes I googled her condition,” one user wrote. “I wish I had been given more info and shown where to go for support. This image is an example of paternalism in medicine. Listen & guide your pnts to reputable resources.”

Dorwart also made sure to point out that while of course specialists are expected to know more than their patients, there’s nothing wrong with doing a little research on your own – especially as a concerned parent.