Choice - patients have it

Mainstream medicine has often struggled to keep up with the technological advances in information share. A common observation from doctors is that they feel that patients often know more about their problem and associated treatment solutions than they do. The plain fact is that there is no reason why anyone cannot now become highly knowledgeable in any particular field of medicine. The doctor patient relationship has shifted to teamwork and joint clinical decision making.

All anyone needs is a device, a browser and connectivity. As Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Warwick Radford says, although he doesn't recommend it, "There is sufficient information on the internet now to enable anyone to do their own hip replacement". The point is that on finding yourself in the unfortunate position of being unwell, there are a whole host of immediate sources (some better than others) at your fingertips, or if the problem is your fingertips, someone elses.

From alopecia to in-growing toenals, pretty well every problem known to mankind is now explained and expostulated in great detail - from mainstream medicine recommendations to the downright whacky. Many doctors have understandably expressed their concerns over patients self-diagnosing, and it is clearly better to get a professionally confirmed diagnosis from experts who specialise in the relevant area. However, for every diagnosis there are always choices, and patients now have the opportunity to explore, in detail, every single option as well as aspect of each option.

My choice is personal

The question is; which sources of information to trust? Doctors will often be highly sceptical about new or non-mainstream approaches, but they are only human, prone to the same subjectivity and so not always right. However, even highly evidence-based medical approaches may not always be the best for you, because it depends on your own set of circumstances and what might be right for you. For example, if you have a twisted knee, surgery might be indicated for someone who needs to get straight back to active sport, but not for most of us who are prepared to apply RICE and allow the injury to repair naturally (depending on the extent of the injury).

Authoritative Medical - andTrustworthiness

Due to the sheer quanity of information and varying levels of quality, 'trustworthiness' is now the main issue for the internet. It is impossible for anyone to state what is trustworthy, and what isn't although there will be prevailing views, or the generally accepted 'perceived wisdom'. In these circumstances the best starting point is to search authoritative medical sites, because in this way you know that the source can be checked directly with the contributor, and that the contributor is an acknowledged expert within the field.

Medical Hub Pages

With regards to choice of particular consultants within any given medical specilalism, there are good, medically intuitive, consultant-led sources of information including Consultant Search and increasingly the new medical hub pages, Consultant Profile. As any researcher will always emphasise, you need to check your sources - and that normally starts with knowing who the author is.

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