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March 28, 2014
Star News


Internet diagnosis a dangerous practice
Bjorn Burke, Staff Reporter

You're feeling feverish; you've got the cough and sore throat accompanied by the runny or stuffy nose. Your body aches, feeling fatigued and nauseated to boot. What do you do? Quick, let's see what Google makes of all this!

This is the response rapidly becoming a trend for many Jamaicans who prowl online forums and medical self-help websites, opting for self-diagnosis rather than waiting countless hours sitting inside a waiting room to see a doctor. A quick search of the aforementioned symptoms will probably return results conclusive with that of the common flu. Plugging in a series of symptoms for an instant diagnosis with many possible remedies seems to have a certain allure to many.

"Certainly so; People are coming here to tell you what is wrong with them. One in three patients,"

Dr Jephthah Ford confirmed, as he told THE weekend STAR that he is aware of the practice.

"And if they disagree with your diagnosis, they will go back online to find out what is wrong with them," Dr Ford added.

Ford explained that "Doctors are not gods," stating that there are individuals who have sought treatment from medical practitioners who have provided a diagnosis which they deem unsatisfactory. Doubting their doctor's claims, Dr Ford said some take to the internet to troubleshoot, and often visit his private practice in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, to confirm their suspicions.

"They use their own self-diagnosis to qualify doctors, and they will call you back afterwards because they will go and check what you have said," Dr Ford explained.

While it may appear as though websites such as WebMD and the like are helpful in making a diagnosis, Ford says he is not worried that doctors are being replaced with the emergence of such resources.

"There is diagnosis, and then there is therapeutics," Dr Ford said, citing the demarcation between the two.

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