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Dos and don’ts for patients who consult Dr. Google

Dear patient,

I meet people several like you on a daily basis. It is always a pleasure to meet you since you come much more prepared compared to the average patient. I have seen you with several sheets of paper or even a notebook, a list of questions and an extra sheet of paper on which to write recommendations. You may even have printed research papers and articles off the Internet.

I applaud your efforts. Your engagement and attention to detail mean that I feel very confident you understand and will follow through on discussions we have and steps we decide on. I am always happy to have you work through your list of questions and concerns, making sure that we have addressed them all. Listening to you also makes me a better communicator since you teach me the perspective of the non-medically trained person. When I do meet a patient not as prepared as you, I actually try to explain things based on questions I recall from you.

Sometimes you ask me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve done some research.” You ask if it is OK to discuss the papers and articles you found, the treatments you learned on the internet. In considering this question, I have come up with a list of dos and don’ts that you might want to consider.

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