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Diagnosis » Pitfalls of Online Medical Diagnosis

Pitfalls of Online Medical Diagnosis

This web site does not provide medical advice or medical diagnosis. Online medical diagnosis refers to the practice whereby web sites make live doctors available in chat rooms to answer questions and pose tentative diagnoses to symptoms. This practice has numerous limitations and pitfalls that make it no substitute for in-person face-to-face medical advice from your doctor. Some of the reasons that online medical advice may not have the same level of quality as a face-to-face consultation may include:

  • Lack of visual feedback: In an in-person doctor's consultation, the doctor makes numerous assessments about your general appearance, general demeanor, and other physical characteristics. These play an important role in diagnosis, and the absence of these in online diagnosis is problematic.
  • Lack of physical examination: Performing a physical examination of a patient is a cornerstone of a diagnostic consultation with a doctor. The fact that this cannot occur for online diagnosis make the online process inherently lower quality.

Reasons for Using Online Medical Diagnosis

Nevertheless, in some instances, such online services can be useful to people. Some examples of such reasons may include:

  • Expense: Medical consultations can be expensive and altnerative methods of interacting with medical experts can be useful.
  • Embarassment: Some people may find it easier to discuss the details of embarassing physical medical conditions, or to discuss their own personal issues in counselling, when doing so online.
  • Convenience: The practical difficulty of traveling to the doctor's office can be an issue for some.
  • Time: Some patients feel that they do not get enough time with their doctors, and may have numerous questions left unanswered after a consultation.

Although these points are reasonable, nevertheless, this decision needs to be weighed against the fact that it is likely that the quality of advice provided over the internet will be significantly lower than would occur in a face-to-face consultation at your doctor's office.


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