Avoid 'Dr Google' - for trusted online health look for quality mark

Dr Sarah Jarvis, Clinical Consultant at Patient comments in response to news reports about 1 in 4 women misdiagnosing themselves through consulting ‘Doctor Google’

‘It’s always sad to see people putting their health at risk, and reports like this highlight the fact that the huge amount of information on the internet carries risks as well as benefits. A quarter of women may ‘dread’ speaking to a doctor, but they should dread the consequences of not getting the right treatment more.

Even if you find it difficult to make an appointment with your GP, you may well be able to get reliable medical advice without a face-to-face consultation. Most GPs have regular phone call times, allowing patients to phone them at certain times to discuss concerns. Your local pharmacist may also be able to help advise on what your problem might be or whether you need to see a doctor.

If you are going to look on the internet, be aware that it is pretty much unpoliced, allowing anyone to post ‘information’ which may not be accurate and can sometimes be frankly dangerous. Your doctor can advise on trusted sites, such as Patient which have been awarded NHS England's quality mark The Information Standard or a similar accreditation.

Patient is fully accredited, and all the articles on this website are written by GPs, for GPs and their patients. They also provide full references to back up their content. Of the millions of people who access the information on Patient every month, almost a million are GPs and practice nurses – a ringing endorsement of the quality of the information.

Saying that, even the most reliable website doesn’t always make for foolproof self-diagnosis. While Patient offers comprehensive information on conditions you have already been diagnosed with, you may need a personal consultation with a healthcare professional to tease out symptoms, especially if you haven’t had them before and haven’t had a formal diagnosis.’

Doctor Sarah Jarvis
Doctor Sarah Jarvis, pictured above