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Beware of Dr. Google

As a physician, nothing is more frustrating to me than a family who does not trust my medical advise because of something that they read on Google.

Please understand, there is no judgement here about using Google. I Google things all of the time. I know that parents have a need to understand what is going on with their kids, and they want to know right now (because of course, "answers" are a few clicks away- and they don't require a phone call, they don't require being put on hold, they don't require an office co-pay). I understand that. I will never be upset with your Google search. But I will be completely offended when you believe your Google search more than me.

Because parents, if you rely on Google searches more than you rely on the advice of your pediatrician (as long as your pediatrician is "good"-definition below), you are risking the health and safety of your child.

Pediatricians spend 4 years of intensive training in medical school. After that, they spend a minimum of 3 years of being a resident, working 80 or more hours per week in a hospital to learn the ins and outs of pediatric medicine, under the supervision of other pediatricians. And each year after they complete their residency program, pediatricians seek out continuing medical education to make sure they are on top of their game. No Google search on earth can compete with that level of expertise.

Let me repeat that. No Google search on earth competes with a pediatrician who is "good"-aka dedicated to the field of pediatric medicine, who listens to their patients and who makes it a point to stay at the forefront of the most recent literature regarding pediatric medicine.

That is not to say that you should not bring up your Google searches with your pediatrician. You absolutely should. And if you have a good pediatrician, they should listen to you and your concerns. If you read that red dye worsens ADHD symptoms (by the way, it doesn't), please bring it up to your pediatrician. Have an open and honest conversation. But do not get mad at the pediatrician when they refuse to list a red dye allergy in your child's medical record-because the current medical literature does not support your Google search regarding red dye.

Please understand that your pediatrician's main focus is on the health and well-being of your child. That is their job, and that is what most pediatricians are passionate about. Pediatricians want what is in the best interest of your child. If they didn't, they quite honestly would have sought out a more lucrative career-as an orthopedic surgeon, dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

So please, don't insult your child's physician by completely refuting their medical advise because of something you came across during your Goggle search. Certainly, be open to conversation with your pediatrician. But I guarantee, if you shut out your child's pediatrician's advise out because it doesn't agree with "Dr. Google", they may shut you out as well. And quite frankly, if you don't trust your pediatrician's opinion, you should probably find a new one.

If you are open and honest about your Google search, you may build a closer relationship with your pediatrician. I have a patient in my practice who was born at 27 weeks gestational age. He has a tracheostomy to help him breathe and a G-tube to help him get all of his nutrition. His mom is constantly worried about the size of the lymph nodes in his neck. And after a few office visits, I realized that her concern came from something that she had read online about enlarged lymph nodes being a sign of leukemia.

So now we have an agreement. Anytime her child has a lymph node that does not feel like a normal lymph node, I will order blood-work to ensure that he does not have leukemia. Is this medically indicated? Probably not. Does it make this family feel better and keep them out of my local ER? For sure. Has this understanding helped to build a strong and trusting relationship with this family? Absolutely.

Parents, it is not your child's doctor versus you and your Google search. Any good pediatrician will understand your need to partake in a Google search from time to time. But parents, you have to understand that your pediatrician will feel incredibly offended if you trust your Google search more than you trust them.

As a parent, your focus should be on your child. And parents, please understand that the health and well being of your child is your pediatrician's focus. You and your pediatrician probably have the same goals! If at any point you feel yourself getting defensive, think about it, write it down if you need to, and bring it up to your child's pediatrician.

I can 100% guarantee you that if you go to your pediatrician's office with your concerns focused on your child, you will get those concerns addressed-as long as you have a "good" pediatrician.

Parents, if you have any questions about the health or well-being of your child, those questions should be answered by your pediatrician in a way that you understand. Ignore "Dr. Google", and instead focus on finding your child the best pediatrician available in your area. Find a pediatrician who you feel comfortable discussing anything and everything with-even Google searches.