Thursday, September 8, 2011
Score One for the Internet
The other day I was at the clinic to have blood drawn for some tests. I told the young lady poking me with a needle that the blood culture had to be done for 21 days rather than the usual 3 days in order to detect brucellosis. She said that she saw brucella on the order but nothing about 30 days. I insisted that it was necessary, because brucella is hard to detect. I had read that on the internet. She had never heard of brucella, but she went to ask the the microbiologist. When she returned, she said, "Score one for the internet. We would have thrown out the culture after 3 days."
There are only 200 cases of brucellosis in the US. The point is that health care can be improved if the public is educated about how to do internet research properly. My own doctor has never seen a case, although he learned about the disease in medical school. Doctors find patient research on the internet to be annoying, but when done right, patients can contribute to their own diagnosis.
What would you say are the key features of useful amateur internet research?