…when all I have to do is use Google? I’m just waiting for my mother-in-law and/or sister-in-law to tell me that and insinuate that it means even less to them now that I’m going to be a doctor since Google can do my job. I can just see my sister-in-law sticking her nose up in the air at me now. My job’s better than yours because Google can’t do it for me (oh, but it can—Google can do everything). It’s already bad enough that patients like my mother-in-law don’t trust doctors—do we have to really make it worse by making it widely known that sometimes, we need to use Google? Really, I’m fine with using Google to look up stuff, even medical stuff, which I was guilty of from time to time during my first two years of med school. But does everyone have to know? I know, I know—patients these days are more informed than ever before. And I’m fine with that. Really, I am. That is, if these patients have enough sense to realize that their internet searches cannot replace all the years of medical training that doctors have received as well as all their years of experience. And my mother-in-law is not one of those people. People like her will turn this study into leverage against doctors when they don’t tell them what they want to hear and every argument otherwise (like the fact that Google wasn’t very good at getting the diagnoses if the symptoms were not very specific) will then fall upon deaf ears.

As a matter of fact, I had a falling out with my mother-in-law because of this very thing. She complained of constipation, thin thready stools, and blood in her stools and was upset that she couldn’t get a doctor to see her immediately. Of course not, because doctors are busy and it sounded like she just had constipation. After a lot of dramatics on her and my sister-in-law’s part, her symptoms were revised to also include loss of appetite, fatigue, and weight loss, making it sound much more like colon cancer. Now how did that happen? Maybe because someone googled her symptoms and colon cancer came up? And the instant colon cancer got tossed around (and it wasn’t by me—I know way better than to do that to myself), my mother-in-law freaked out and started with more crazy dramatics about how we all have to take care of her now because she was going to die. Uh, right. Which doctor diagnosed you? Dr. Google? Anyway, to make a long story short, she eventually got a colonoscopy after my sister-in-law bullied a gastroenterologist into bumping her up on his waiting list (I feel sorry for the people who really needed that colonoscopy) and guess what the diagnosis was—hemorrhoids! Even I was shocked at such a uh-DUH result. But my mother-in-law, well, she refuses to believe the diagnosis because Google told her she had colon cancer. Hence the falling out—since I’m going to be a doctor and since I am but a mere student and therefore support the real doctor’s diagnosis, she thinks I’m out to get her along with all of the other doctors out there. No amount of explaining has been able to convince her otherwise. All because someone taught her how to use Google.

And that’s why I think that allowing uninformed, illogical patients to know that doctors sometimes have to use Google to help them diagnose things is not a good idea. Because these patients are the ones usually causing us the most trouble in the first place and we have now just handed them proof that their Google searches just might be as valid as our own reasoning. Really now, why did I go to med school again?

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