Okay, I am not calling any specific person a dummy. (Well, I might be doing that, however that is totally not the point.)
I am noticing an alarming increase in the number of internet experts in the world, and in our conspiracy theory soaked culture, we are at the mercy of every armchair diagnostician who cares to impart their great wisdom and prescription for health.
Okay folks, give me a break. I am so tired of reading people’s swill. All of these self-appointed experts who have “done my research,” are actually perpetuating a cycle of misinformed self-righteousness. The exact thing that they accuse the medical establishment of doing.
This article was sitting quite proudly on my Facebook newsfeed, and caused me to waste two hours reading the comments and trying to figure out what on earth all these people were applauding. She was quoting old sources, and most were not from peer-reviewed journals. (I cannot believe I am linking this to my blog- THIS IS NOT ACCURATE- PLEASE, DO NOT USE THIS AS MEDICAL ADVICE- OR EDUCATION!)
As healthcare providers, we seek to provide safe, effective, and accessible healthcare. Evidence Based Medicine means that your doctor is adding to their knowledge base with continuing education, in order to take the best care of you and your family. They collect information about you (the patient) and use those findings to seek answers.They also understand the difference between correlation and causation.
Social media is a dangerous place for sick people. I see things that make me cringe every day. Just look at your newsfeed and read the comments. I feel certain that you have seen this scenario. Someone posts that they have been diagnosed with cancer. Immediately, there are a plethora of well-meaning supporters.
- You can fight this!
- Stay strong.
- My cousin’s aunt had a friend’s husband’s cousin had that EXACT cancer, she beat it by eating the placenta of a virgin. Or some other equally absurd “cure.”
- Take this vitamin,I do. I did not get cancer.
- Go to Mexico and get peach pits- they are proven to cure cancer. The FDA wants to hide the cure, so they can sell you chemotherapy.
- Ignore that doctor, you can beat this if you try hard enough. No one dies from cancer.
- Read this website- prayer cures everything!
- Your flu vaccine gave you cancer.
- Eat organic vegetables. No meat- vegetarians don’t get cancer.
- Avoid gluten, it gives you cancer.
The offensive thing about all this well- intentioned advice is that apparently, there have been a lot of patients out there who had crappy doctors. They were not treating as a whole person, and their doctor LIED to them! Hid cures! They have been getting money under the table for years! They want you to be sick! Then, they have something to treat! Give me a break. Do people seriously continue seeing doctors who they think that little of?
Most people use anecdotal evidence as their go to for sharing what they understand about a disease. Imagine sitting in a doctor’s office and being told you have cancer. Are you still comprehending everything that comes out of the physicians’ mouth? When you try to tell people about the diagnosis, can you remember everything he said? Probably not. So, what do you do? You go home and google. (I go home and google too. It does not make you a bad person.)
Here is an interesting piece about anecdotal medicine that I think nicely sums up the fallacies of these experiences. Every situation is unique, and it is dangerous to assume that one person’s story of a cure is applicable to you, or even accurate. I hear people say all the time that such and such or so and so saved them. Great! I am so happy you found something that worked for you. That does not mean that it will work for everyone.
Now that I have expressed some of my opinions about internet medicine… What about the asshats who try to influence you and your medical decisions?
I have ADHD. I was not diagnosed as a child, and have a complicated educational background as a direct result of no treatment. Now, I am a Nurse Practitioner with an excellent college track record. My son, who is so very much like me, was diagnosed earlier. We knew what to look for. We are not on the same treatment. What worked for me, did not work as well for him.There is no miracle solution, and we have had to utilize tools including medication and dietary changes along with behavior modification.
There are asshats (this dude is a huge asshat, he also dismisses celiac sprue as fake, and I feel certain he is an expert) who judges me for my choices regarding my family’s medical care. They did their research! ADHD is Bullshit! ADHD is invented by pharmaceutical companies because they don’t want to cure cancer or AIDS. My only problem is that I am lazy. Don’t worry, I am sure they will loan me their tinfoil hat. It’s exasperating. If only I were a better mother, I would have sought their advice prior to seeking a professional. Obviously, I failed to google the disorder.
The stigmatization of seeking medical care has become rampant in our holistic- organic- supplement inhaling- DIY- self made man society. (I do believe there is a role for complementary medicine, however it should not replace sound medical advice.)
Frankly, it is none of your damned business. It is a private matter, and it should be left to the patient and their medical team to evaluate. There are a multitude of factors that must be considered, and a proper risk- benefit analysis should be performed. In other words, are the potential benefits worth the potential risk? This should include any treatment options vs. not treating.
As a reasonable, responsible, and rational person you have an obligation to be an informed consumer. This is contingent your ability to discern the validity of your sources. If you honestly believe that your healthcare team is corrupt and seeking to harm you, then you have an obligation to seek care elsewhere. If you feel that your provider is inept, you need a new healthcare provider. It is not rocket science.
Do not use the guy down the street who once knew someone who had a friend who ___ (fill in the blank.) Find a professional.
Here are some tips (mostly for the guy down the street) for offering medical advice:
- Just Don’t. (They need to choose a medical professional and seek their advice.)
- Tell long stories about how you know exactly what they need to do.
- Offer the website for the new miracle cure.
- Invite them to your prayer circle because you have provided many cures.
- Judge their lifestyle choices and condemn their morality.
- Gossip about others personal medical condition, and create an action plan for intervention. They really do need your help, they just don’t know it yet.
- Actually, just go back to #1 unless you are an expert (actually, a real life medical professional whose opinion was sought)
Come on people, stop being ridiculous. Stop sharing misinformation. Above all, stop assuming you are an expert because you read something on Wikipedia, Web-MD, some blog, or Fox News. Give me a break.