Social Media & Medical Diagnosis: Could Your Online Doctor Kill You?

Is social media slowly replacing the traditional form of curing illnesses by doctor visits followed by diagnosis and medical prescriptions? Can social media really kill you through misdiagnosis? Should we really trust online doctors who give out free or universal drug prescriptions?

An Intro into My Train of Thoughts…

Misdiagnosis By Angela Melick

Misdiagnosis By Angela Melick

I won’t go as far as Voltaire and say, and I quote: “Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.”But I sure do agree that this quote can be applied to many “trendy” online doctor-wannabe’s who claim to have the know-how to diagnose medical issues simply through reading a bunch of symptoms!

Recently, and with the increasing reliance on social media for almost every little piece of news we read and advice we need, social media has become a place for “self-acclaimed” gurus in every field, even the critical field of medicine!

This worries me!

If you look at solid statistics, you will be able to clearly see that there are around 80,000 deaths reported annually, in the US alone, due to doctors’ mistakes and wrong diagnosis! Add to that the fact that, in these times we’re living, anything can kill you; what you eat, what you drink and even anger!

The Wheres & Hows:

It is only natural, and even more so expected, that most of you will wonder: Where did this idea spring from and how was I able to make such observations?

The answer is very simple: Linking my daily social media interaction with the recurring number of times the subject of health tips and medical advice pop ups! Allow me to demonstrate by using both Mixx and Twitter as examples…

Mixx: I visit my Mixx page almost 3 times a day and on average, amongst every 20 shared articles, there has to be roughly one related to medicine and health such as: 1) 7 Warning Signs of Cancer, 2) The Health Benefits of Tea, 3) 7 Foods that Make You Happier, 4) Healthy Food Choice during Pregnancy, and the list goes on!

Whatever the problem is, someone, somewhere on his/her blog, seems to have a fast and effective diagnosis and more often than not, a treatment that comes hand in hand with it!

But we’re not talking about diagnosing a carpet stain here are we? These are people’s lives at play!

Moving on to the bigger of the two evils: Twitter and social media “doctors”! Those are just unbelievable! Check this out:

Twitter: To clarify my point, I will list below a number of “free” health-related advice and tips, in the form of tweets, that you can find through a simple Twitter search:

  1. @prosperity66 Updated Diet Blog Easy Diet – Free Weight Loss Diet Plan For Business Women http://bit.ly/enDRS (as if all women have the same dietary needs, weight, height, medical history and perform the same physical activity throughout the day!)
  2. @brikmorris New post: Are Colon Cleansers Safe To Use For Weight Loss http://bit.ly/3sXiVP (who is Casy Wigwire, the author of this post? Is she a certified doctor?)
  3. @maracig After Cancer Treatment: Health Tips Everyone Needs To Know http://bit.ly/uNuqc (posted by “nickname” on a blog with a slogan that reads “for everything” so it has to be 100% true! Really?)
  4. @DietMagic Health Nutrition Tip: Cancer Nutrition Tips http://bit.ly/2Lb2sQ (Again, who posted this? A doctor? A cancer survivor? And do these nutrition tips work for everyone, regardless of their medical history and current allergies or nutritional needs?)

Allow me to stop here because I’m sure you kind of can see where this is headed! Please, humor me, do your own research and you’d see the huge number of different similar and opposing health and medical tips and advice, like a one size fits all blouse! Ridiculous!

Sadly, There’s More!

And now, let us unveil that “scariest” form of new age “medicine” healers: The Crack Doctors! Somehow, day after day, we are sucked into this notion of healing injuries, diseases and malignant tumors with energy! Even worse, herbs are now being prescribed to solve almost every medical condition that “real” doctors failed to cure, all that for “some amount of money, with no guarantees whatsoever!”

Now, let’s fact it, social media played a great role in promoting these kinds of practices and “healing” methods, I’d even go as far as seeing: “It motivated them!”

Concluding Advice:

Finally, and to sum up this article, I’d like to reiterate the following question for you to think about: Should we really trust online doctors who give out free or universal drug prescriptions? My answer would be a definite “No” but if you still see otherwise, please don’t mind sharing and explaining your point of view below.

If you found this post informative, please RT and share the knowledge.

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    I barely trust doctors face to face! I think whoever trusts online doctors should go check his head – at a REAL hospital!

    Healing by herbs is OK in my opinion for non-serious conditions: flu or sore throat. But healing with energy, crystals and similar nonsense methods is B.S!

    So, your online doctor in my opinion could indeed kill you, or maybe just make you suffer a bit longer until someone sane takes you to an actual doctor. Great post, Beirut…

  • http://www.seo-writer.com/ SEO David

    And it's not just social meida. Even more basic is a simple Google search. Social meida is no doubt amplifying the situation, as now we read about conditions we are searching for and about conditions we didn't even know we needed to search for.

  • http://twitter.com/workerbeeblues Sheri

    Well, let me say there is no way to trust doctors online. You can't even trust the one's you see. (of course i don't mean all of them) I'm in the medical field. If everyone knew or saw all the mistakes that happen, they would never go to the doctor. Sometimes it's so sad makes you want to cry or strangle the doctor yourself.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    you make good points @beiruta, but I find it interesting reading health tips online, especially if it is coming from a credible source. I tend to read things from different sources and verify it with people around me before forming an opinion. But, yes, sure, I wouldn't trust a full fledge online diagnosis, this is a really serious matter.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    You're very right! Google and Yahoo as well have turned into encyclopedias for healing ANY disease and curing EVERY sickness!

    Even I, the the one who wrote this post, must admit that at many occasions, when I had no time to visit the doctor for a certain problem or pain, I just simple Googled it!

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Can I ask you one thing: Who is a “credible source”? What is the measure of online credibility? I mean we have hundreds of people claiming to be someone they are not online in every field and they probably will never get caught!

    Thanks for the feedback :)

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com M.Bamieh

    Hmm actually if its advice I usually double check what my symptoms are and I reach a diagnosis before i even go to a doctor so that i'm prepared for whats coming… and usually i end up being right and sometimes i have been able to successfully argue my way into getting the better drug instead of being stuck with a less reliable one because i read before hand.
    I wouldn't buy in the tips all that much, but medical information online like Webmd or Mayoclinic or John Hopkins and others like it have definitely help establish some form of verification of medical information.

  • http://www.aromatherapy-essential-oils.com/alternativemedicine/divya-ashwagandha-medcine-and-churna-for-constipation Divya Ashwagandha medcine and Churna for Constipation | Alternative Medicine

    [...] Social Media & Medical Diagnosis: Could Your Online Doctor Kill You? (thoughtpick.com) [...]

  • http://e-medicalarticles.com/2009/09/check-your-medical-symptoms-3/ Check your medical symptoms | e-Medical Articles

    [...]  Re: Social Media & Medical Diagnosis: Could Your Online Doctor Kill You?Posted by bambamieh via Disqus   [...]

  • http://twitter.com/Krud Krud

    I think this is a much bigger issue than “trusting online doctors to not kill you.”

    It's really about trusting people online, period. Deciding who to listen to, who to believe, who to take with a grain of salt. There's a lot of crap on the internet. Some of it is dressed up nicely, well-formatted, and even “recommended” by others online, but it's still crap.

    And even “good advice”, if not taken in the right context, can be harmful, especially when the person giving the advice doesn't know you personally. For example, if someone tweets, “Eat more green vegetables!” They don't know that I can't tell a green vegetable from a red vegetable from a brown vegetable. (Yes, I know the brown ones are rotten.)

    When people get online, and they sit in front of the computer (or over their mobile device, or whatever) with information at their disposal, the temptation to be a self-professed expert can be hard to resist. Granted, some have more credentials than others. (*points to your blurb above*) But even so, it's not hard to make someone sound legit online (see earlier statement about well-dressed crap.)

    Even what I'm saying here, what do I have to back it up? Nothing. You don't know me, and it's only my rambling vaguely coherent sentence structure that “proves” I'm not a spambot or clever chat AI. I could offer advice or suggestions right now, and someone might read it, take it to heart, and even try it. And they would be foolish to do so without double-checking me.

    My long-winded point is, this is a good lesson for the internet in general. Whether dealing with health, wealth, happiness, deals on printer toner, or even Friendly Singles In Your Area!

    Caveat Emptor, even if you're not actually “buying” anything.

    As for free online prescriptions? I wasn't even aware that was legal. o_O

  • http://mybesthealthcare.com/degenerative-joint-disease/ Degenerative Joint Disease | Total Personal Health Care

    [...] Social Media & Medical Diagnosis: Could Your Online Doctor Kill You? (thoughtpick.com) No Related Posts          [...]

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2009/09/does-more-social-media-shorter-product-service-life-cycle.html Does More Social Media = Shorter Product & Service Life Cycle? | Thoughtpick Blog

    [...] how it plays a role on almost every stage of its users’ lives! Whether it be how social media could kill us, its effect on our mental health or how its use can positively or negatively effect an enterprise, [...]

  • drgeorgechandler

    Doctors should never try and diagnose anyone on the internet. I don't see anything wrong with sharing health tips. However, people should always check with their doctor (real life DR.) before making any drastic changes due to a health tip they read online.

  • http://www.healthtips2u.com/weightloss/destined-for-8-years-of-poor-health Destined For 8 Years Of Poor Health | Diet And Weight Loss

    [...] Social Media & Medical Diagnosis: Could Your Online Doctor Kill You? (thoughtpick.com) [...]

  • shaniece

    the palms of my hands aqre orange

  • http://www.solex.edu/medical-assistant-program/ Stephanie Powers

    This is an important point. I wouldn't trust an online doctor for a diagnosis. I feel more confident that someone who has at least graduated from a medical assistant program is available to check vitals. The internet is, however, a useful tool to become more equipped when visiting a doctor face-to-face.

  • http://medicaiddoctors.wordpress.com Medicaid Doctors

    Thanks for information, I'll always keep updated here!

  • http://www.medical-negligence-ireland.com/wrong-diagnosis-compensation-claim/ wrong diagnosis

    There are many genuine reasons and excuses for the wrong diagnosis of an illness, and it could be any one of many people involved in your health care who is liable. while taking an online help, one should be extra careful and seek the expert for the help

  • http://www.medicalnegligenceireland.com medical negligence ireland

    Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments. 

  • http://www.medical-negligence-ireland.com medical negligence ireland

    Being a victim of medical negligence can be a devastating experience. Not only does it create unnecessary pain and suffering, but it also destroys the trust we invest in medical practitioners and their duty of care towards us. Doctors, dentists, midwives and chiropractors do a generally magnificent job in caring for our health, but there are the times when the standard of care we receive falls below an accepted standard and leads to medical negligence. In Ireland when a case of medical negligence results in an injury, or the deterioration of an existing condition, you are entitled to claim compensation.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2009/09/username-xadultfinder-action-unfollow-more-twitter-tips.html Username: @xadultfinder – Action: Unfollow! More Twitter Tips…

    [...] claim to be one in your user name! This applies to everything else ranging from claiming to be a doctor to claiming to be an active [...]

  • Anonymous

    I think online doctor facility is a good facility. It is so important in emergency. You can get the advice and treatment online. You just consult them and also contact your doctor.

  • Anonymous

    I think online doctor facility is a good facility. It is so important in emergency. You can get the advice and treatment online. You just consult them and also contact your doctor.

    casino online

  • http://www.medicalnegligenceireland.com/ Medical Negligence Ireland

    I am very glad for advice that we should advance for our future in this time nobody knows what might happen because of the people with whom thanks for information.

  • Anonymous

    As part of its strategy to disseminate and propagate alternative medicines, the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines regularly organises conferences, seminars, symposiums and exhibitions. The highlight of the Board’s many events are its annual international conferences of which it has thus far successfully organised Eleven besides Eighteen national conferences. 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest pingbacks

Like us on Facebook

We love Tweepi

Tweepi Logo

Follow the best and unfollow the bots, with the only Twitter management tool with stats!

Big Advert

Share a post

Got an amazing campaign, web app or a social media related topic that you'd like to share with our readers?

Explore Thoughtpick

Our Archived Posts

Try Our #FF Helper App

FollowFriday Helper makes playing Twitter's #ff a piece of cake!

A brand new way to recommend tweeps based on how you tweet...

We're on Twitter

Oops, something went wrong and we could not display the latest tweets! :(

Thoughtpick by email

For more Learn Social Media by Example reviews, don't forget to subscribe to our posts by email:

©2010 thoughtpick, copyrights reserved.