Warning — vent ahead.
I’m not even sure where to start. Government cutbacks aside, I am finding it increasingly frustrating dealing with patients who trust the Internet more than me. I do not presume to know everything about medicine, there are certainly times I am a bit perplexed by a patient and I am fully capable of admitting it. But I am the one that went to school for medical training. Why, suddenly, does that mean nothing to people?
The thing about family medicine is that for most things, taking a “wait and see” approach is totally reasonable. Sometimes a condition doesn’t present itself right away and at times, monitoring symptoms for a few days to see if they evolve is quite reasonable. Of course, I’m not talking about obvious conditions (chest pain, shortness of breath, unilateral leg swelling). Most patients are okay with the watchful waiting approach. But there are a few who decide to take it upon themselves to do their own “research”, then call me back with questions. “But this website said that you’re supposed to treat immediately.” “But this website says it’s this kind of medication, not the one you prescribed.” Really? Well, if you trust that website so much, you don’t need a physician then, do you?
I have no issue with the patient who respectfully asks me about something they read “online”, and why it might be different from what I suggested. It’s the patient who speaks with the undertone of “you’re wrong because I read it online” that really gets my goat. There seems to be a growing lack of respect for physicians and it’s really beginning to irritate me. Just because you read something online, doesn’t mean it’s true! There is no policing of information on the Internet. Readers have to be savvy; you have to know how to cross-reference material; you have to know what is a reputable site and what isn’t. You have to understand the physiology and biochemistry of the human body. Lets face it, most people don’t. So it really boggles my mind the audacity with which certain patients talk to me. I would never speak to a professional, be it a lawyer, engineer, professor, or doctor, with that kind of attitude. Clearly, that’s just me.
And don’t even get me started on the parents in my practice who don’t vaccinate their children. That’s a whole entire other post.
There will come a time in certain patient relationships I have where I am going to have to put my foot down. Either you trust me, or you don’t. If you don’t, you need to find a new physician. I am getting really tired of this shit.
And since I brought it up, here are some reputable Internet sites for medical information.
Public Health Agency of Canada
National Library of Medicine
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming….