The Internet is both the best and the worst thing to happen to medicine ever. Well, ok maybe penicillin was pretty important. And I guess anesthesia was also a big break - rather than simply getting people drunk and hoping they didn't wake up during the procedure, it allowed us to do whatever we wanted for however long we wanted. But I digress. These days everybody seems to think that they can google something and instantly become a medical expert. Nevermind the fact that becoming a doctor actually takes around a decade of school and training. A 5-second internet search apparently allows people to skip years of training and practice.
A short while ago I admitted a young man who had been involved in a fairly serious car accident. He had bonked his head pretty hard (that's the technical term) and had a small contusion in his brain. As per our protocol, I had repeated his CT scan several hours after he arrived, and it confirmed that the contusion had not changed at all. I admitted him to the intensive care unit, and though he was initially very confused, he improved dramatically over the next few days. The night before I was going to discharge him home, I got a very irate phone call from his very irate mother.
"How the hell can you be thinking about sending my son home?" she asked me. "You haven't even done an MRI of his brain!"
No of course I hadn't, I told her. I very calmly explained to her that her son was getting much better and there wasn't any need to do any further imaging. The only reason to do a test is if you plan on potentially changing the treatment based on the result. No matter what any test showed, his treatment wouldn't change. I tried to explain calmly that not every brain injury patient needed an MRI. It was a very expensive test that wouldn't change anything.
As soon as the words escaped my mouth, I regretted saying them. Her screaming grew louder. She accused me of not doing anything and not caring about how her son was doing. She then accused me of simply trying to save the hospital money. I held my own, and nearly an hour later, I finally hung up the phone, absolutely satisfied that I had not convinced her one bit.
Not surprisingly, her son continue to do well, and I sent him home. He did not get an MRI.
All I ask is that you just please let me do my job. I'm not saying you can't ask questions and challenge me, because I'm not perfect. I actually appreciate questions. But you have to understand that google doesn't make you an expert, and unless you've been to medical school, I know a hell of a lot more about this than you do.
I wonder if I can use Google to search how to deal with idiots with a smart phone who think they know more than they do.