Internet Access Produces Misinformed Patients: Managing the Confusion

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The Internet has produced a truly phenomenal increase in access to information. This is really only helpful to patients if the information is filtered and appropriate to their specific needs. Too often patients access information about conditions they have self-diagnosed and bring it to the consultation with their physician, who then has to spend time disabusing the patients of the misinformation they have accumulated. Patients also return home from their initial consultation, access the Internet, and come up with all manner of promotional information from companies and even orthopedic practices that they want explained to them by their physician. It is the overwhelming conclusion of orthopedic specialists that this kind of Internet use is actually a burden for them in caring for patients and is not contributing to patient enlightenment. It does not have to be this way, if physicians will do just 2 things: first, create white papers for patients that address common current questions, such as surgical approach or bearing surfaces for implants and why we do what we do. This is a huge time saver and will preempt many questions. Second, develop their own website or select excellent nonprejudicial sites to which they can refer patients. To do less will invite a neverending parade of questions irrelevant to patient welfare.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. Rapid and unlimited access to information is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, it is creating problems for orthopedic surgeons. I believe a relatively simple solution exists if you are experiencing what I am with my patients.

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