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Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search with my Medical Degree!

We've all seen this very clever, witty statement. Some doctors have this up on their walls, or it may be found on their coffee mugs, on their tee-shirts, etc.

And it makes sense for doctors to get this idea out, right from the start. They are the experts, and we would be wise to follow their counsel. Patients should respect their authority, their knowledge. The doctor shouldn't have to waste time listening to the crazy ideas patients find online. Why pay an expert if you aren't going to listen to them? Right?

Wrong! Absolutely WRONG!

The word doctor is derived from the Latin verb “docere,” meaning to teach. The doctors most basic responsibility is to help the patient to learn. A doctor should be very happy to find their patients using Google to become informed. A doctor that discourages their patients from becoming educated is showing very poor judgment. Interestingly, these same doctors that criticize patients for using Google are probably using YouTube to learn new procedures, according to a recent CNBC article.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Question: What if the patient gets bad advice from some random website?

Answer: Then the doctor should TEACH the patient why the websites advice is wrong. Most adults understand that some websites are outdated or just plain wrong.

Question: Why shouldn't the patient just get the information from the single best source to begin with, the doctor?

Answer: As it says in Proverbs: "in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." Gathering information from multiple sources increases the likelihood the patient will make the right decision.

Question: But there is so much fake news out there.

Answer: Patients know that if they check 10 websites and 8 of them all say the same thing, they probably have found the conventional wisdom on that issue.

Question: What if the doctor has the newest information that hasn't shown up on websites like WebMD yet?

Answer: The doctor can explain the new information and share the evidence the doctor has relied on to accept this new information.

Question: What if the doctor and patient don't come to an agreement?

Answer: The patient is in charge. It's their life, their choice. The patient can seek a 2nd or 3rd or 4th opinion. The patient should not agree with anything they don't agree with.

I had a patient who had been told by 3 separate orthopedic surgeons that low back surgery would only make the patient worse. A 4th surgeon went ahead and operated on the patients low back, and the patient had an excellent outcome.

This case helped remind me that we must never tell patients what they "must" do, and we should not limit the patient's sources of information. We should offer our best opinion, humbly, and support the patient as they make their best decision utilizing all the information they can gather from many different sources.

All Patients Should Become Informed

and Make Their Own Decision!

Many patients do become experts on their own condition

I've spent the last 40 years educating patients, and encouraging patients to seek information from any and all legitimate sources including feedback from family members, friends, google and the public library. Doctors should be one of the information sources patients use.

I am shocked when I see doctors discouraging patients from becoming educated and informed. Doctors that scoff at patients becoming informed, should be avoided.

An Educated, Informed Patient is a Good Thing!

Take care and BE HEALTHY! CW Jasper October 2022 © 2022· Content is Property Created by CW Jasper


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Dale Hawkins
Dale Hawkins

Excellent article Cary!

It amazes me how many people do not take advantage of the health information freely available to us in this "information age".

It does take some effort to sort the wheat from the chaff. But definitely worth it.

I like your reference to Proverbs as it is so true.

And your point about finding several reputable sources that agree means your can have a high level of confidence it what they are saying.

Thank you Cary for continuing to teach.

Dale Hawkins


Natasha Rasaka
Natasha Rasaka

What a great article! I often educate myself on conditions that come up before I talk to any doctors or experts. I need to know what I know and know what I don't know. I am often told by many providers that it is refreshing to have me (or more likely, my children) as patient(s) because they are comfortable with my understanding, willingness, responsibility. I had a doctor not ready to treat my son for a chronic condition until I explained my experience with it. She then learned so much from me, it made her want to know more and she is not more comfortable with her knowledge and helping other patients. I don't claim to know everything, but I…


Gerald Hacker
Gerald Hacker

I often go to the internet when I find pain I cannot identify. I will take this information to my doctor to hopefully give him a starting point as to what might be wrong and develop a possible treatment option. Thank you Dr. Jasper for your post.

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