Study: Nearly Half Of Doctors Use Google, Yahoo To Diagnose Patients

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A new study finds almost half of U.S. doctors are going online to figure out how to diagnose their patients.

KNX 1070’s Bob Brill reports the findings of a survey of American Medical Association members is causing a stir in the Southland medical community.

“I don’t think doctors should be using Google,” said Dr. David Schiff of Los Angeles. “That’s what their training is all about.”

Researchers with Wolters Kluwer Health found 46 percent admitted to using Google, Yahoo and other search engines to diagnose, treat and care for their patients.

The survey also found that while younger physicians could correctly identify diseases using only Google and a list of symptoms, they were not as accurate as veteran doctors who did not use the ubiquitous search engine.

In fact, Google and Yahoo are the third-most consulted source for new physicians after professional journals and colleagues, according to the survey.

Still, Schiff warned there are limitations to even the most seasoned online researcher.

“Google can provide certain information and it’s helpful if you don’t have time to go to a book, but otherwise medical school wouldn’t be necessary,” he said.

Another surprising result from the survey found that nearly one-third of physicians frequently ask their pharmaceutical sales representatives about patients’ symptoms and possible recommendations for treatment.

While the Internet continues to be a useful tool for researchers and physicians alike, there simply is no substitute for sitting down and seeing each patient individually, Schiff added.

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