Admit it: You Google a lot of people in your lifeÃ¢â‚¬”your blind date, the job applicant you're interviewingÃ¢â‚¬”and you figure they probably Google you right back. But what if that person is your doctor?
In a New York Times column published online yesterday, Haider Javed Warraich, M.D. discusses whether or not that's OK. "Doctors do 'Google' their patients,' he writes. "In fact, the vast majority of physicians I know have done so. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ But it surprises me that more physicians don't pause and think about what it means for the patient-doctor relationship. What if one finds something that is not warm and fuzzy?"
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Warraich writes that while he's "tempted" to say doctors should never Google patients, this issue should really come down to why the healthcare provider wants to type that patient's name into a search field. "To me, the only legitimate reason to search for a patient's online footprint is if there is a safety issue. If, for example, a patient appears to be manic or psychotic, it might be useful to investigate whether certain claims the patient makes are true. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ But if the only reason a doctor searches online is to gather personal information that patients don't want to share with their physicians, then it is absolutely the wrong thing to do."
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