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Saturday, December 18, 2010


Sep 26 2008  Wiki-Medicine. Scary.

Please convince me that I shouldn’t be bothered by this. The other day I was at the hospital paying a visit to a friend. As usual this trip to the hospital - like every other - involved a significant amount of waiting and doing nothing. I killed the time by doing some people watching, specifically doctor watching.

One doctor in particular did something that caught my attention.
Leaving a patient in their room the sat down at the computer and started typing away. However as I looked closer I noticed that this dcotor was looking something up [pause for dramatic effect] on Wikipedia. Now for those of you who don’t know, Wikipedia is an on-line encyclopedia of just about anything, from the truly important to the totally random. What makes Wikipedia unique is that the content is user-created. That is, any dude sitting in his mom’s basement can jump on and help write the definition regardless of whether or not they have an idea of what they’re talking about. And while these same people can help ensure the accuracy of the content it is nonetheless the equivalent of selling dictionaries with an eraser and pen attached.

Now, please understand. I like Wikipedia. I use Wikipedia. But I don’t wholeheartedly trust Wikipedia. And I don’t think I want my doctor coming to a diagnoses with the help of Wikipedia. Aren’t there large, dusty books that they are supposed to be pulling off shelves or top-secret doctor only web-sites that they are supposed to be accessing when they leave the examination room? Is a 100K education supposed to hinge on what one can “google?”
Granted, I’m making an assumption that this doctor was doing something associated with a patient when she surfed to, read through, and wrote down several things in her chart from the site. But it sure looked like it.
I just don’t what the day that a doctor looks up my illness to be the very same day that some over-zealous pharmacy rep listed their experimental drug (that just so happens to lower your sperm count and make your hair fall out) as the “proven” cure all. But hey, maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I tend to do that. Besides my doctor is awesome.
6 Responses to “Wiki-Medicine. Scary.”

1.Chrissy Says:
September 27th, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Geez…someone needs to tell that Doc about WebMD! That I trust!

2.Carrie LaMay Burgan Says:

September 28th, 2008 at 1:10 pm

I admit to using Wikipedia to identify muscle groups when I’m studying anatomy, but I’m but a lowly massage therapy student. General Wiki research is fine, but I would be scared, too. Is the doc to cheap to subscribe to the online reference DBs for docs? They exist in spades. Or yeah, use WebMD? Sadly, Google, and Wikipedia are the top three free web “research” vehicles out there. When I was pursuing my Master’s in Library Science, we were inundated with information about students using these (non-reliable) sources as all primary sources in their undergrad-to-DOCTORATE papers. *slaps forehead* Heaven forbid someone actually pick up a dusty “Journal of the American Medical Association” (”JAMA”) and look something up.

3.Jen Says:
October 8th, 2008 at 9:19 am

Wow, that is really scarey. I am constantly telling people the truth about that website. Hopefully whoever wrote the page she looked at was another doctor.

4.Sarah Says:
January 8th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Wikipedia is said to be more accurate in a lot more subjects than the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
I find that much more terrifying than any point you made.
5.dr who dolls Says: (spam content)

6.JP Saleeby, MD Says:
December 18th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Well in this era of evidenced based medicine, it is really much different subscribing to an opinion, fact or fiction on wikipedia versus our established peer-reviewed journals? How confusing is it when in JAMA one month’s article in support of a new treatment is to be summarily rejected by another article the following month in NEJM?


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