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Doctor consulting Wikipedia

 
 
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 09:39 am
The other day I had a follow-up appointment to a surgical procedure I had a few weeks ago. The appointment was with a doctor who was not the actual surgeon; he was filling in for my surgeon, who was out of my town. I've had no previous contact with this doctor before.

At one point the doctor looked at my records, saw a technical term he wasn't familiar with, then went to his computer to Google it. The first hit that came up was the Wikipedia entry. After what might have been a split second's hesitation--I can't be sure--he clicked on it and briefly read through the article. He chuckled half-apologetically and made a comment about having to consult Wikipedia. Everything he said for the rest of the brief meeting was based on what he read there.

If you were the patient, would this bother you? Is there anything amateurish or unprofessional about a doctor consulting Wikipedia in the presence of a patient? He clearly had a hint of guilt about it, it seems.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 1,360 • Replies: 15
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JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 09:58 am
@Shapeless,
Quote:
If you were the patient, would this bother you? Is there anything amateurish or unprofessional about a doctor consulting Wikipedia in the presence of a patient?


Your greater concern might be that he briefed your surgeon before the procedure. Smile
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 09:59 am
@Shapeless,
hell yeh. Wiki's are written not so much with facts in mind but just to provide something. I fnd hilarious entries in the outer reaches of technology with which I deal with. I suspct that, using someoenes sig line
"If you find one thing wrong, chances are that theres other stuff thats wrong too"
JTT
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 10:12 am
@farmerman,
That signature line describes a large number of your posts, Farmer.
0 Replies
 
Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 10:15 am
@farmerman,
I agree with all of that... and yet I consult Wikipedia all the time. I'm trying to decide whether this mitigates any alarm I might be tempted to feel about the fact that my doctor has to consult Wikipedia too...
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 11:23 am
@Shapeless,
I consult Wiki all the time as well, but not in any professional connection. It's handy for quickly looking up a historical fact or date or reminding myself of some scientific principle I learned in high school and have since forgotten how to phrase it. But your health and well-being isn't in my hands and I'm not an M.D. anyhow.

I'd be concerned about the competence of this medico.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 11:38 am
@Shapeless,
I think that said doctor is too cheap to subscribe to a more credible medical reference site so he chooses to go the spendthrift way.

You can't be too harsh on the doctor. He's human and thusly CAN'T know everything.
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 11:40 am
People seem to think that articles in Wikipedia are automatically wrong and untrustworthy, and that a doctor using one as reference is a bad one. It depends what was being looked up. If a janitor read up the brain surgery wiki and then advanced upon me with a scalpel and a Dremel, I'd be alarmed, but if my general practitioner used it as an online dictionary I wouldn't mind too much, but then my confidence in my doctor does not depend on having to believe he is infallible, only that he is intelligent and efficient.
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 11:48 am
@contrex,
The point really isn't that the Wikipedia article may well be completely right and totally trustworthy. The point, I think, is that the doctor's behavior in openly consulting it is highly unprofessional. Which, of course, leads one to wonder in what pther areas might he be less than on top of his game.
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 12:10 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Lustig Andrei wrote:

The point really isn't that the Wikipedia article may well be completely right and totally trustworthy. The point, I think, is that the doctor's behavior in openly consulting it is highly unprofessional. Which, of course, leads one to wonder in what pther areas might he be less than on top of his game.


I got that point. I thought my post implied as much. I'll try to be clearer. Doctors look things up all the time. I am married to a pharmacist. (So do they). I would rather my doctor used a Wikipedia page as a quick reference for some point of terminology than take a a guess, or worse, blithely assume he knew everything already. It depends on what you call "professional". My father distrusts any doctor who is any of these: (a) not white (b) not wearing a necktie (c) addressing him by his first name (d) female. I do not feel that way. I don't want a doctor who makes me think he is "on top of his game". I want one who uses his time and the available resources effectively.

0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 12:18 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Quote:


The point really isn't that the Wikipedia article may well be completely right and totally trustworthy. The point, I think, is that the doctor's behavior in openly consulting it is highly unprofessional
well yes it is because , as a physician he has access to the PDF and the medical glossary ( by discipline).
DID he not have any knowledge of these actual medical resources?
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 12:33 pm
@farmerman,
Thank you, Farmer. I was trying to say something similar.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 12:55 pm
I find that kind of unprofessional as well. Every specialty has it's own online sources to consult and even a simple practitioner has an abundance of information he can access online as well as the PDR.
0 Replies
 
Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 02:03 pm
@tsarstepan,
Quote:
I think that said doctor is too cheap to subscribe to a more credible medical reference site so he chooses to go the spendthrift way.


It should be pointed out that this hospital is connected to a major research university. One would think there were more specialized online resources available through the school that he could have consulted.

I've asked my friends in the medical profession and the general consensus seems to be that this doctor didn't do anything wrong in principle but should have at least had the professional dignity to go to his office and do his Wiki-search there, and then come back to me with his diagnosis.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jul, 2012 03:01 pm
@Shapeless,
It also should be pointed out that he looked up the meaning of one word. He may well have known exactly what it meant, but just wanted to do a double check.

Surely no one believes that a Wiki definition isn't checked and rechecked against other sources, including medical dictionaries.
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jul, 2012 02:50 am
@JTT,
JTT wrote:

It also should be pointed out that he looked up the meaning of one word. He may well have known exactly what it meant, but just wanted to do a double check.

Surely no one believes that a Wiki definition isn't checked and rechecked against other sources, including medical dictionaries.


I looked up Polycythemia in Wikipedia because I know someone who has it, and clicking the "Talk" tab you see a whole bunch of stuff including this in a box:

Quote:
This article is within the scope of WikiProject Medicine, which recommends that this article follows the Manual of Style for medicine-related articles and use high-quality medical sources. Please visit the project page for details or ask questions at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine.
Start This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
Mid This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.


Underneath this are comments suggesting improvements, pointing out alleged errors, oversimplifications, etc.

I expect an inaccurate or dangerously wrong article by some Joe Blow would get comments that should ring alarm bells to an alert reader.


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