Health & Wellness

Beyond Dr Google

The benefits and hazards of self-diagnosing
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We’re all guilty of it. Symptoms pop up mysteriously and we don’t want to go to our doctor. So who you gonna call? That’s right, Dr Google.  Yup, I’m talking about self-diagnosing.

Armed with the quick knowledge we’ve gathered, we boldly go to the pharmacy or grocery store to fix ourselves up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Have you ever wondered if doctors engage in self-diagnosing? Well, a couple little birdies on island, who shall remain anonymous, has shared that they do. Seems like it’s human nature to think we know everything and then act on it.

One of the major reasons that self-diagnosing can be dangerous is that diseases are complex. Some symptoms can overlap many different diagnoses, all of which can range in severity.

Self-diagnosing can be healthy. It gives people the ability to speak up for themselves, normalizes mental health and self-awareness, and gives the ‘average Joe’ a voice in the professional world.

However, a professional is usually able to accurately diagnose your condition and share the best treatment options better than you are.

With that being understood, is it safe for physicians to self-diagnose? After all, they are trained professionals.

Wikipedia shares that physicians are discouraged from engaging in self-diagnosis due to a potential lack of objectivity. An inaccurate self-diagnosis – a misdiagnosis – can result in improper health care, including using the wrong treatment or not seeking care for a serious condition that was under-diagnosed.

Hey, we’re all human.

Alright, we’ve determined that it’s not a good idea to take care of our health alone, even if you are a professional. So how do doctors determine who to turn to? Is it true doctors make the worst patients?

Doctors who walk the walk know when to ask for help. A smart doctor would recognize that they don’t know everything and to seek the advice of a colleague.

And one physician shared with me that yes, doctors do make the worst patients. Insert sheepish grin here.

So, how do you find a good physician, whether you’re a doctor or not? Here are some simple tips:

  1. Ask around. Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about their own providers. But remember: Every person is different. Just because a provider was perfect for your neighbour or your best friend doesn’t mean that they are right for you.
  2. Make sure your insurance coverage is accepted by the provider you’re interested in. Be aware of any out of pocket expenses before you go.
  3. Do a quality check. Has the person been in the news? Have you heard other professionals speak about this person? Bermuda has a way of sharing information if you look deep enough.
  4. Place a cold call. Phone a potential provider’s office for a first impression. You can tell a lot by the phone etiquette of the office staff.
  5. Ask about logistics. Try to get a sense of how the office runs. How do they handle prescription refills? Test results? Virtual appointments? Reminders? It’s also good to ask if they offer same day appointments or how long a typical waiting room visit is.
  6. Keep your needs in mind. Every person has unique health needs, and those needs change as people age. Ask your provider about their specialties or areas of interest.
  7. Trust your gut. It’s crucial that you trust your care provider. If something seems off, trust your instincts and look for someone who’s a better fit.

All in all, take the wise path, and do what the doctors do. Get a second opinion.

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