In many ways, technology has brought empowerment to managing one’s health. Ready access to generic healthcare information makes it possible for people of all ages to bolster fitness, prevent illness, identify symptoms and remedy minor issues. The Internet can also locate healthcare professionals, pinpoint specialties, verify credentials and showcase expertise through sophisticated healthcare web sites. Significant positive information and valid education pour freely from computer screens “twenty-four-seven.”
The extraordinary value of online medical guidance can quickly turn menace when self-proclaimed experts dilute evidence based science with their unscientific opinions. It is difficult for the healthcare consumer to sift through medical information and discern truth. Amateurs can easily taint actual research results and skew excellence. A single disgruntled patient can destroy a completely worthy doctor or institution simply by manifesting unrealistic expectations. The banter of destructive commentary that is so readily available online is often highly influential and totally without merit, and ironically might keep a potential patient from actually falling into the best possible hands.
Good physicians and dental specialists are proud to be held to a high standard. They have invested “time, talent and treasure” in learning to become fluent in the language of human healing. They have taken the Hippocratic Oath and have embraced Ethics at a very high level. In spite of shadows cast by the Internet, most doctors are solidly focused on increasing their batting average by making their patients healthy and happy. Intentional malpractice is actually exceptionally rare.
The best advice is to be wary of Internet advice. Look to the source of the information and determine whether the message is scientifically based and springing from experience or merely the articulation of biased opinion. A little time and wisdom help this analysis. When weighing two opposing perspectives on the proper way to treat an issue, education and credentials are key to making the right choice. The Internet is a valuable resource for providing information but it is not the Bible of any medical discipline. Like a barefooted walk on a stony beach, pick your way through carefully and beware of the stones that can hurt you.