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4 Ways to Protect Yourself When Seeking Medical Advice Online

Judie Rappaport
August 14, 2014

Dear Judie,


Mom’s (81) severe debilitating Osteo Arthritis keeps her in constant pain so I went on line to research options. I gave her doctor the information I found. He barely glanced at it and said, “The Internet is full of erroneous information. Let’s stick to tried and true treatments.” I’m still furious. Can he really believe he knows everything?”

- James, Vero


Dear Judie,


Mom (79) has Parkinson’s. She’s almost totally dependent. I found a Parkinson’s chat room online with some wonderful tips. To make certain these actions wouldn’t interfere with her treatment, I checked with the doctor. Her answer, “Let’s leave the treatment to medical professionals, shall we?”

- Beth, Stuart


Dear Readers, 


Millions of people use the Internet to learn about diagnosis and treatment for illnesses, and to connect with other caregivers for coping skills and tips to improve quality of life. Patients often inundate doctors with nonsensical internet “cures.” Unless you know how to search and what to believe, medical guidance from the Internet can also be extremely dangerous.

Start with these guidelines:

  1. Major hospitals and university sites (Mayo Clinic, Shands, Cleveland Clinic) present accurate, clear pictures of illnesses. Most end in .edu or .org (not .com/.net) and are maintained by reliable healthcare sources. (Exception:
  2. Never send money for information or “cures”—these are scams. Legitimate resources share information without charge and direct you to professionals for treatment.
  3. Ignore articles with scary titles; legitimate resources write informative articles with descriptive titles. Reach the credentials of authors before you take their advice. If you can’t find a second opinion verifying the information, disregard the information.
  4. Online support groups/chat rooms can provide valuable information, coping skills, and general support/comfort if you use them wisely. Don’t assume everything you hear/read will automatically happen to you. Each person reacts differently to food, medications, and the disease process. 


Consult your doctor using a more diplomatic approach: “I’m guessing patients bring you many internet articles, but this option seems tailor made for Mom. It says...” -- clearly and concisely relate the option and the benefits to Mom, then politely ask, “Do you think we this is worth trying?” We think a little diplomacy may go a long way!



Judie Rappaport, President & Founder
Preferred Lifestyle Services

Trust Yourself. You Have the Knowledge, Insight,
and Power to make the right decisions for you and your parent. ©


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