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Should Doctors Google Patients?

from the information-wants-to-be-free dept

We recently had a story about an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics that recommended doctors avoid using social networks entirely, because of potential ethical issues related to patient information. That seems a bit extreme. It seems like there would be ways to use social networks without compromising your ethics. However, a recent article in the LA Times takes this discussion a step further. Beyond discussing social networking usage and "friending" between doctors and patients, it wonders if it's okay for doctors to do internet searches on their patients to find out more info about them (or even see if they're lying about stuff). Of course, this seems like a bit of a flip side to the typical complaint from some doctors who don't like that patients are searching for information online themselves, though usually more for self-diagnosis. The article suggests that it really depends on the doctor, the patient and the situation, but it seems that many doctors are afraid to search for info about their patients.
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Filed Under: doctors, patients, search, social networking


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2010 @ 3:51am

    The question is not whether doctors may look at publicly available and publicly posted information (for which there is absolutely no expectation of privacy), but rather how heavily they may rely on it.

    There is always the what if scenario of: "But like what if like some guy hates you and makes a web page posing as you and how much you want to get AIDS and you go to your doctor and he's all like, 'dude, do you have AIDS?' and you're all like, 'no way man', but then he's all like, 'but your web page says you want to get it.'"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      nononymous cow hard, 6 May 2010 @ 4:15am

      Re:

      If your web page says you want to get something, wouldn't that mean you don't have it? So why would a doctor ask someone if they have something, when their web page says they want to get it? WTF?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pete Smith, 6 May 2010 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      I can see fake web pages about people wanting AIDs are becoming a serious problem for doctors and their patients.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nsaamiller (profile), 6 May 2010 @ 4:13am

    What doc has the time?

    Time to google patients? Not likely. Hell, I have hardly enough time to spend doing a good job evaluating, deciding, and informing, let alone snooping on my patiens.

    Tempest in a teacup. Maybe the authors of the JMEdEthics article really need to get out and talk to docs who spend their days working for a living. The LATimes article is a joke, as far as I can see. Is there a "silly season" for health writers, or is it post Obamacare mania?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daniel, 6 May 2010 @ 4:24am

    I bet House would do it! Seriously though, if it is relevant and could potentially save their life, why not?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2010 @ 4:48am

    So my doctor can stick his hand in my ass but he can't google my name??? Thats just stupid. As far as social networks go, I dont see a problem with a doctor creating a fan page...if clergy can do it, why not doctors too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2010 @ 6:11am

    I'd be more happy if my doctor actually cared that much about my health! i'm lucky to see my doctor for more than 2 minutes when I visit him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    WammerJammer (profile), 6 May 2010 @ 6:42am

    Right On

    Absolutely!! I Google every new contact and glean all of the info about the perp, (oops I mean contact) I can find. It only makes sense to be informed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bobb, 6 May 2010 @ 7:04am

    Knowledge is power

    It is best to be forearmed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NullOp, 6 May 2010 @ 7:17am

    Docs

    I would absolutely encourage docs to google their patients! Not only could it possibly allow a better understanding of the patient but, even more importantly, it could potentially warn the doc about possible problematic behavior on the part of the patient. As far as docs 'friending' patients...it's probably not a good idea. I would have the receptionist do it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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