Internet health searches leave patients panicked

Whilst many people are tempted to Google health queries rather than go into battle with the doctor’s receptionist, it appears that we aren’t spotting the health facts from myths.

According to The Information Standard scheme, 48 per cent of us would use fingers to remove a blockage from a choking baby and 45 per cent think post natal depression is simply due to hormonal changes as a result of childbirth. Both are wrong.

But as well as misinformation, patients are panicking themselves when searching for tummy ache and diagnosing themselves with at least three forms of cancer.  

West Midlands GP Dr. Louise Newson, is familiar with this kind of problem. She says: “Many of my patients go online to get health information. However, as the survey suggests, they are often not able to tell the difference between what is and isn’t reliable. This has meant that I’ve had patients who have come to me confused, unduly panicked or completely misguided.”

Now the Information Standard is aiming to give internet users some guidance as to the reliability of health information they find online.  

The certification scheme is being supported by the Department of Health with any organisation producing health and social care information eligible to apply.

Ann Robinson, director of public awareness for The Information Standard scheme said: “Any producer of health information can apply to be Information Standard certified. When the public sees the quality mark on the information that they’re reading, they can feel confident in the knowledge that the information is evidence-based and comes from a trustworthy and reliable source.”

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