Googling For A Diagnosis
This morning while I was getting ready for work I heard a brief snippet about searching Google for medical answers and I reminded myself to find out more when I got into work. So when I log into my computer what do I see, at least four emails right off the bat about this issue. I guess that is the beauty of Medlib-l, when some of us are sleeping, librarians in other parts of the world have their ears open and are sharing the information.
The article in BMJ "Googling for a diagnosis--use of Google as a diagnostic aid: internet based study" (free, so far) had doctors search in Google for the correct diagnosis to 26 cases. Google brought up the correct diagnosis only 58% of the time. The article also states,
"Clinical decision support programs have been reported to be valulable aids in diagnosing difficult cases...... We think Google is likely to be a useful aid in diagnosis too. It has the advantage of being easier to use and freely available on the internet."
What, What, WHAT?!?!?!?!?
First, the authors just stated that Google only displayed results to the correct diagnosis 58% of the time, and now the they are ready to use it as a clinical decision tool! Those odds are slightly better than flipping a coin! Well with those stellar odds and the doctors' perceived satisfaction why are we even bothering plunking down big bucks for clinical decision tools? That's it I am getting rid of UpToDate and telling my doctors to use Google, after gets the right hit a whopping 58% of the time which is great....if you are a baseball player!
I am not anti-Google, I use it to find the answers to some bizarre or tricky questions/searches. If I am striking out with traditional and more reliable databases and methods, Google might point me in the right direction. HOWEVER, I use that information I found in Google and then re-run my search in the appropriate medical databases. I don't use it as the method by which to gather all medical information, as one might if they were using it as a clinicial decision support tool.
Like it or not, Google is not going away and as a librarian on the Medlib email list said, "Whatever we think, it does impact the way we teach our patrons and provide reference." I guess we need to really start brushing up our teaching techniques because not teaching how to use Google (as is the case with some libraries because they want to support the use of Medline) ain't cutting it. They are using it anyway and they are thinking they are the Albert Pujols of medicine with a slugging percentage over .500.