The Internet and Medicine



The Internet is undoubtedlyone of the main developements of the XXth century – with profound implications for all the domains of activity. Medicine has also ”taken advantage” of the opportunities provided by the Internet – as information plays an essential role in medicine.

It is useless to expand now on the huge benefit medicine got from the existence and developement of the Internet – however I wish to draw attention to a potential risk, which the well-informed people are probably already aware of – but which remains unknown to most of the people who sail on the internet and who do NOT have in-depth medical knowledge.


The risk I wish to write about is posed by the possibility that certain information – presented as an informational resource – might contain ”bits of truth”. These ”bits of truth” – often perfectly presented from a medical point of view – can lead to wrong conclusions because a layman can be very easily mislead – precisely for lack of knowledge necessary for a broad view on the described phenomenon.


This information with „bits of truth” has several causes:


- some pieces of information are written by experts and are intended for colleagues – representing researches, opinions, work algorythms etc. – and as you do not intend to write a treatise on the net, it is obvious that the information will usually avoid divagating;

- other pieces of medical information are presented with the aim of informing the public – briefly - but this information DOES NOT substitute for a MEDICAL EXPERTISE or TREATMENT and the reader SHOULD BY NO MEANS MAKE A DIAGNOSIS OR ESTABLISH THE EVOLUTION by himself/herself (in the case of an already known disease);

- "as in football", there are also very many medical ”experts” (I mean people with almost no medical knowledge), whose opinions are everywhere on the net; personally, I am for the freedom of speech, of opinion, and especially for the freedom of the internet – the responsibility of the ”conclusions” belongs to THE READER ALONE.

- There is a terrible amount of information presented with the sole purpose of advertising products or services (more or less medical).

HOW CAN WE AVOID REACHING WRONG CONCLUSIONS:


Try the following easy steps:


1.Check who is the person who writes that particular article (author)– those who are experts in their field usually give all the data relating to their identity – see for yourself whether he or she has the competence – in case such kind of information is missing (which seldom happens):

2.Verify the site on which the information appears – or better said - who is ”behind” the screen – there are scientific sites, whose authority in a field cannot be questioned, but there are also extremely numerous pseudoscientific sites; checking them is easy: you click ”about us” and everything will get clear right off;

3.Ask yourselves: ”Who is the target audience of the information I am reading?” – whether it is intended for people with medical knowledge at your level.

4.Ask yourselves: ”For what purpose was the information written?” or – ”What are they trying to sell?” – or – ”What is the product that is being advertised?”.
There are obviously many sites which live on commercials – and the ADVERTISEMENT itself IS NOT BAD – however THE MEDICAL ADVERTISEMENT becomes HARMFUL when it is extremely aggressive and tries to persuade a person or a potential patient with regard to certain benefits of various products or services – in the absence of a previous medical consultation.

Pay close attention to the products which are sold under the banner: ”the X product is available without a medical prescription – in case of unpleasant side-effects check with your physician or pharmacist....”

In my opinion this should go a bit different: the X product is available without a medical prescription – in order to avoid the manifestation of unpleasant side-effects, check first with your physician or the pharmacist.

It is possible that, at some point, advertisements for products or services appear on this site too – but I shall try to approve only of those medical adverts which present themselves as a mere informational resource and remember:


IN ORDER TO AVOID UNPLEASANT SIDE-EFFECTS, FIRST CHECK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN!

Last update: December, 2014

Gabriel Panait MD

Website: www.pansportmedical.ro/english/info/internet_and_medicine.html

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