Dr. Google more accurate than doctors

One in four women have bought the wrong medication after misdiagnosing themselves on the internet and one in ten has suffered unpleasant side effects as a result, research suggests.

That sounds bad but:

Iatrogenesis is a major phenomenon, and a severe risk to patients. A study carried out in 1981 more than one-third of illnesses of patients in a university hospital were iatrogenic, nearly one in ten was considered major, and, in 2% of the patients, the iatrogenic disorder ended in death.

The short definition of iatrogenesis is \”doctors fucking up\”.

Yes, agreed, this is not a rigorous statistical comparison. However, it is the correct one.

It isn\’t \”are women and google misdiagnosing?\” but \”how much worse than doctors are women and google diagnosing?\”, a question to which I don\’t see a clear answer as yet.

If indeed they are worse…..

13 comments on “Dr. Google more accurate than doctors

  1. Conspiracy theory hat on. I wonder just how many iatrogenic hospital deaths in our glorious NHS are reported as other causes?

  2. You cannot make the comparison at all. The samples cannot be compared – both groups self-select. In addition, if women are buying medication, it means it is likely to be OTC, which means the less serious illnesses, whereas those in hospital (one assumes) are more serious. Since doctors at the GP level hopefully do fairly well with simple illnesses, the hit rate for doctors should be higher.

    Also since the iatrogenesis includes cock-ups such as wrong doses and surgical error, the mis-diagnosis part of iatrogenesis is probably substantially less than 1/3.

    To be fair there may be many misdiagnoses by both doctors and women that are minor and fundamentally have no impact on patient health.

  3. Interesting historical perspective: back in the old days, there was a drawn out political power struggle between the barber surgeons and the apothecaries for State recognition. The bloody apron brigade won it, which is why pharmacists were reduced to mere dispensaries under doctors’ orders. Very much a guild thing.

  4. I believe the misdiagnosis rate is 60% for GP’s and 40% for consultants. Ken makes a good point, but my experience with medical professionals is they have to be beaten to within an inch of their life before they can be bothered to listen to you, and hence make any diagnosis 🙁

  5. 1. I don’t have to go through some nonsense of phoning on the day to see Dr Google
    2. I don’t have to take time off work to see Dr Google
    3. Dr Google has more collective experience than GPs in terms of solutions. He’s seen millions of people with a variety of conditions who reply with what works.

    I basically self-diagnose now (since 3 GPs and an ENT failed to diagnose my TMJD and Dr Google pretty much found the answer after an hour’s searching). I don’t trust GPs. They don’t get to that point, they just throw something at the problem based on a partial diagnosis and hope it sticks. If my diagnosis were to differ from my GP’s diagnosis, I’d be asking him a lot of questions about different symptoms before I’ll take whatever script he wants to throw at me.

  6. GOM: my father-in-law was one. A junior medic blurted out that the old boy had been infected with MRSA. After some delay the consultant completed the certificate, giving cause of death as Old Age.

  7. With all that mercury and blood letting it wouldn’t surprise me if most deaths of those could afford doctors were iatrogenic.

  8. I think the basic point is that self-diagnosis is effective for people with competent intelligence and some level of education, but doctors will still be needed for people like Arnald.

  9. dearieme: My dear departed mama starved herself to death and was also put down to Old Age.

    Regarding staying alive, I’ve established experimentally that one should not consult a specialist unless it’s 100%, certain that his particular bag of tricks will definitely fix what ails you. Breach of that rule invites the man-with-only-a-hammer problem.

  10. he whispered as he took his fees ,
    there is no cure for this disease.

    My but you are a cynical but sophisticated lot.

  11. Rubbish Tim. If you bothered to look at the paper you quote from indirectly, you’d see that is says

    We defined an iatrogenic illness as any illness that resulted from a diagnostic procedure or from any form of therapy. In addition, we included harmful occurrences (for example, injuries from a fall or decubitus ulcers) that were not natural consequences of the patient’s diseases. However, the term “iatrogenic” should not be construed to mean that there was any culpability on the part of the physician or hospital, or that the illness was necessarily preventable.

    A lot of these cases are not “doctors fucking up”. They’re known risks of treatments for dangerous conditions which justify the risk. To give one example, if you administer anticoagulants such as heparin or warfarin, there’s a risk of haemorrhage (as happened to Ariel Sharon). That counts as iatrogenesis, but it doesn’t necessary mean that the doctor made a mistake.

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