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Use the Internet to find medical advice at your own risk

DAILY NEWS CONTRIBUTOR

Friday, January 29, 2016, 9:05 PM

Dr. Samadi says people need to be extremely careful when using the Internet for medical advice.

Dr. Samadi says people need to be extremely careful when using the Internet for medical advice.

Many people use Google for their medical advice instead of asking their doctor. According to a study, only 43.5% of websites provided accurate information. The rest were either inaccurate or irrelevant.

The most accurate sites were from government organizations, which were found to be accurate 80.1% of the time. The least accurate websites are blogs, found to be only accurate 30.9% of the time.

This is a major problem, and health care providers need to be aware of the extent to which patients turn to the Internet for information about their care and then act on that advice, regardless of the reliability of the source.

If you are going to search for medical advice on Google, double-check the sources’ validity before acting on the advice. Websites ending in .gov or.org or .state are accurate and reputable sources.

You should avoid personal blogs, as incorrect information is worse than no information at all.

That’s not to say all the internet is bad, it’s okay to use Google for health questions if you use a credible source and if it prompts you to visit your doctor should you have concerns.

The Internet is best for choosing the right physician, narrowing down your choices and doing online background checks — not for self-diagnosis.

Once you have a general idea of the kind of doctor you need, where you would like to see them, and how much you are willing to pay, you can narrow down your list by some more of your personal preferences.

Do you prefer a male or female doctor? Do you feel more comfortable with an older or younger physician? If English is not your first language, would you prefer a multilingual doctor?

Sometimes the easiest way to find out more about a doctor is to google them. Although information online needs to be viewed with a grain of salt, it can help you get to know a doctor better before even meeting them.

You can check their board certification, negative reports associated with their medical license, and online reviews to see what other patients have to say.

It is important to choose doctors with whom you feel comfortable. Speak to someone who specializes in treating your condition.

From all the info you have gathered from the Internet and your research, it is time for you to go to your doctor with this information and get to know the facts.

Discuss and learn everything about your condition with your medical team. Ask any and every question until you feel comfortable. Discuss your medical conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any health issues, including heart or lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, dental work, arthritis, or drug allergies.

DO

– Check with your doctor about any health concerns before following online advice

– Use a government or organization website

– Double-check all facts found online

– Use common sense when following online advice

DON’T

– Rely on blogs for information

– Just assume your symptoms are like everybody else’s

– Self-diagnose

– Fall for gimmicky marketing: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery, and an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team and the chief medical correspondent for am970 in New York City, where he is heard Sundays at 10 a.m.

Learn more at roboticoncology.com and SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter and Facebook.

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