From daily news to what our friends have been up to, from celebrity gossip to recipes to make for dinner, virtually anything can be learned on the internet.
Sometimes, however, we forget to take things with a pinch of salt and remind ourselves that not every piece of information that lives in the virtual world is legit and reliable.
Ask yourself what was the last time you googled some random symptoms only to find out you may have a very rare illness, and that time is ticking and so is your heartbeat, sending you into panic mode. Now think of all the doctors who hear these things retold by heart by their patients, and imagine the hilarity of it.
When someone asked doctors to share their ‘dumbest ‘I read on the internet…’ moment they had with a patient’ on Ask Reddit, it was destined to become an entertaining read. Read on below for the most eye roll-inducing stories!
I’m not a doctor, but I did take my very elderly Nana to the hospital after I showed up to her house and found her slurring her words and behaving very strange overall. Now, my Nana is a major hypochondriac and when she was admitted the first thing she told the doctor is that she believed she was experiencing the beginning signs of Parkinson’s.
It turned out that she had mixed up a bottle of non-alcoholic wine with a bottle of regular wine, had drank the entire bottle, and was completely hammered.
A friend/Pharmacist told me a story about a 17 yo female patient who came in with her boyfriend to pick up birth control for the first time. They got a 28 day supply and had no questions, but returned 2 weeks later saying THEY ran out. The girl said she read on Facebook that if you both take the pill once a day it’s twice as effective because it gets into the guys semen. My friend said it was a long conversation explaining why that doesn’t make sense..We need better Sex Ed in the US lol
You’d be amazed at how many people tell me (type 1 diabetic) that I could could get out from big pharma and my dependency on insulin if I just eat right…
I’m skinny and otherwise healthy. Type 1 is autoimmune disorder that must always take insulin due to the pancreas no longer creating any on its own…
These conversations are often met with a blank stare by me.
It takes as little as a google search, a good dive into online forums, or a single click on a website, and you’re on the way to self-diagnosing yourself with an illness you don’t have and going into panic mode. And although we all know how pointless and even dangerous getting our medical information online can be, it’s still very tempting to find out what’s wrong with us and how to help it.
So to find out more about why we should never get our medical information from the internet, Bored Panda spoke with Daniel Markuson, the cybersecurity expert at NordVPN. Markuson was happy to share very useful insights with our readers.
My dad is an ER doc. One of my favourite recent stories of his of the teen girl with blue legs.
Teen girl and her mom had been waiting at the ER for 6 hours when he came on shift. He read the chart before he came into the room that she had blue legs and was otherwise normal. When he looked at her he didn’t see blue around her mouth etc that would indicate lack of oxygen and her levels were normal. Just bright blue legs.
He goes over to her with an alcohol swab and wipes some of the blue off her leg. Then asks her if she just bought new jeans.
Mom and daughter look at each other and burst out laughing – realizing they waited 6 hours in the ER for nothing. He said they had a good sense of humour about it and could see how ridiculous it all was.
Nice funny story that balances out all the c**p and sad stuff he’s seen over the years.
Not a doctor but someone told me I should drink bleach to cure diabetes. Ok yeah it would cure me because a corpse can’t have diabetes can it?
As a general surgery resident on the colorectal surgery service, we do a lot of hemorrhoids, a**l fissures, etc. One of my colleagues prescribed a cream for a middle-aged woman and she later called back and asked if the cream would still work while she was on vacation in Hawaii. Uh, yes it will, why? She replied, “Bc I was told to apply it locally.”
“My main advice is to avoid getting medical information from the internet. It can be misleading,” Markuson warned. The cybersecurity expert continued: “You could google ‘Why does my back hurt?’ and find results that would suggest you have cancer or some other serious disease when in reality your problem is bad posture.”
Moreover, from the digital privacy perspective, that could also be dangerous, especially if you research the condition you have, Markuson argues.
My father saw a patient who was convinced that hospitals were a sham. She had cancer. She winds up on chemo for a bit but very quickly tells my father she isn’t going to be taking her medication anymore because “she knows when she’s being scammed” and the side effects of her medication were “proof”. Apparently, the chemo my father was prescribing was a ploy by Big Pharma. Apparently, that was what was actually causing the “cancer” in the first place.
Well, she decides to go off her medication for a bit and starts feeling better as no chemo = no side effects from chemo. She takes this as further proof that hospitals are a sham and starts blogging about it. Posting online about how she’s living proof that hospitals are fraudulent and telling people to stop buying Big Pharma’s lies.
She was then sent back to my father, via ambulance, sometime later. The test results were back and, surprise surprise, stage four cancer. She died in the hospital later that week.
I am not in the medical field, but during my time as a student with acquaintances in the medical field, two stories marked me:
A woman kept getting pregnant within months of delivering the last baby, so her physician told her to take the pill. She comes back pregnant. The physician asks “But didn’t you take the pills?”
“Yes I added them to the food before serving the whole family”…
Another one was a woman who came with a baby suffering from a weird skin condition on this buttocks. After leaving no stone unturned the clueless intern asks her to show how she takes care of the baby. Let’s start by changing diapers. That’s when the mother asks for a glass of water, to pour it in the diaper like they show on TV ads, before fitting the diaper on the baby…
When I was a medical student I met a woman who was heavily interested in homeopathy and natural healing, who started drinking her own urine. You can often drink small amounts with no issue, but she was drinking *only* urine. Urine has a high salt concentration, and she ended up dehydrated with an acute kidney injury.
It’s important to remember that nothing that you google remains private. “It can later be used to target you with ads, your search history can be seen by someone who gets access to your device, or your information may even be stolen by malware,” he explained.
Markuson argues that the only way to check medical facts on the internet is to ask your general practitioner about it. “The information is more reliable on government or official hospital websites.” Having said that, the cybersecurity expert added that you still should consult with your doctor before deciding to use any medication.
Was recommending the COVID vaccine to a patient at a routine office visit. He said he read on the internet that they “put a microchip” in the vaccine and that it was “made by the Illuminati”. I pointed at his cellphone and told him you’re already being tracked buddy, not sure about that Illuminati 5G family plan though.
I’m just an accountant. Once I talked with a diabetic who read on the internet that cinnamon controlled blood sugar. So he stopped taking his medication, and relied on cinnamon instead.
It cost him his big toe, which he lost to diabetic amputation.
Literally in the elevator the other day I had a woman look straight at my badge and then tell me “you know these blue hospital masks are only good for 30 seconds right? After that might as well not be wearing one”
I honestly didn’t know how to respond.
It is no secret that many people turn to the internet to find out information about their symptoms and complaints. Similarly, they look for nonexistent drugs and may even fall into the trap of scammers.
“It is never a good idea to buy medications online. A lot of scammers try to make money out of people’s naivety,” Markuson explained. “Some of them may even have fake websites for selling their products easier and look pretty reliable at first glance.”
That’s why it is always important to either buy medication physically in a pharmacy or consult your doctor about trusted online resources.
I regularly have to explain to junior detectives and families that an autopsy does not function as it does on CSI and I can’t just speculate wildly about the sex, height, hand dominance and motive of a murderer except in very specific instances. But I don’t blame them, I blame f*****g CSI.
Not a doc (nurse) but my doctor friend who works in the ER had a patient with a few garlic cloves stuck deep in her vagina because she had read on the internet it helps with certain infections and yeast. (I realize garlic does have antibacterial properties but needs to be used *appropriately* and with caution)
Medicine doctor here; clinic incident a while ago – discussing preventative medicine with one of the patients and encouraging them to get covid vaccine. They refused and I offered to discuss their concerns and hopefully answer any doubts. After talking a while they finally said I am not going to be getting the vaccine. Told them I respect their opinion and I am available if they have any questions that come up in the future and then told them that if it makes them feel better I got the vaccine in December 2020 and am very grateful for it because it kept me safe and allowed me to care for all the covid patients. They looked at me blankly for a full 30 seconds and then said that I should start getting my affairs in order and that I am going to die in dec 2022 because they read online that anyone who gets the vaccine will die within 2 years of getting it. Tried to have a more informed conversation with them and provide evidence but I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere.
I’m a nurse practitioner. When I worked in urgent care I had a patient tell me he spent 5k of his own money (because insurance wouldn’t cover it) on getting an MRI of his shoulder because when he held his arm above his head for a long time it went numb and tingly. I just stared at him dumbfounded for about 5 seconds before moving on.
Respiratory therapist here. Mostly I have enjoyed reading the public comments on articles relating to COVID. Highlights have included:
“The ventilators are killing people! If people can breath on their own, they do better on high flow oxygen” Right. Believe it or not, we don’t intubate people because it’s a slow Tuesday, it’s because (in the case of COVID) their oxygen demands have exceeded other mean of delivery (BiPAP, usually)
“COVID isn’t a lung issue! It’s a gas exchange issue!” Sure. And where does the primary source of gas exchange occur? Yep. That’s the lungs.
Also had a patient that didn’t believe he had COVID. Even went so far as to ask if the q-tip we used for the test came from the bottom of the box where it could be contaminated by actual COVID positive tests, since he heard that can happen. (All our lab tests are individually packaged of course)
We had an older (60s) couple that ended up with COVID, and we had them together in the same room. Most of us thought the man was going to die, as he was pretty bad. Their daughter was there almost around the clock. Many of us had long conversations with her about various treatments and expectations. Even she had mentioned it was just so different living thru it than what she had been expecting thru social media.
When they had first came in, we had them in separate, smaller rooms since that’s what we had available. After a week or so, one opened up where we could put them together. The daughter asked me point blank “So, are these rooms opening up because the people in them died?” I was honest. “Yes. That exactly what’s happening”. She just nodded her head. I don’t think she was expecting that answer.
I had a friend about 10 years ago go to a “faith healer” for wrist pain from drumming and asked me to go with him. It was the dumbest s**t I have ever seen. He paid her £200 to literally just wave her hands over his wrist for 20 minutes while some pan-pipe music played.
Funnily enough, it didn’t cure his carpal tunnel syndrome. Who would have thought??
It did make me wonder whether I’m missing out on an easy scam if people are THAT gullible, though XD
I’m an RN. Patient w/diabetic foot ulcers read on the internet that salt would dry them up. He put his foot in two plastic shopping bags w/rock salt & turned his foot into prosciutto basically. Had to “carve/amputate” most of his foot. He has forever been nicknamed “hammy” by me.
I once had a lady come in who clearly didn’t believe in modern medicine, but had to see us for an official diagnosis for her disability application. I remember she probably had fibromyalgia, admittedly a very difficult condition to manage. She presented me with a report written by a complete quack (and I use this term very rarely but it applies here). This “practitioner” had taken a strand of hair and run a “DNA” test on it for some significant amount of money. The whole report went through all her symptoms, and decided that because the patient had lived in a mouldy house 10 years ago, all her symptoms were caused by residual mould in her body. Specifically named her kidneys, heart, nervous system, and brain as having mould in. Then recommended a homeopathic remedy to fix it. The patient had swallowed this story hook, line and sinker, and nothing I could say would dissuade her.
It’s the only time I have tried to track down a therapist of any kind to try to report them. Funnily enough, they chose not to respond to my e-mails or telephone messages.
So much COVID disinformation!
I enjoy teaching my patients about their health. It took me countless hours of studying in medical school and many more hours than that in residency to figure out how the body works, so I’m not usually surprised if patients are confused about things.
However, since the start of the pandemic, I’ve actually had to keep current on the latest disinformation just so I know where these questions are actually coming from.
I had a guy a few weeks ago come in with a Post-It Note with the word “Ivermectin” written on it.
I felt like I knew where this conversation was going, but I asked: “Why do you want a prescription for ivermectin?”
“Just to have it…”
“Is this some treatment for COVID?”
“Yeah, I read online from some doctors (WHO???) that it can boost the immune system and treat COVID.”
“Sir, ivermectin is a treatment for intestinal parasites. It does nothing against a virus like the coronavirus. Further, I actually treated people in the hospital with COVID and rounded in our ICU and none of us have ever prescribed ivermectin to treat seriously ill COVID patients.”
“But I read online from these guys—and they’re doctors—who said it works…”
After five minutes of back and forth like this, you just need to stop, cut them off and tell them you’re not prescribing their medication and move on. There’s 20 other patients on the schedule today and I can’t fight this battle right now. Good luck, man.
Had a pt prescribed nuvaring for birth control to be inserted vaginally. Ring lays around the cervix. She came in complaining it was too tight and needed a bigger one. Shows wrist, pulling on tight ring to show how was cutting off blood supply to hand 😑
Conversation I had with a doctor a few days ago:
Me: “So I was told that if I can identify what food I am eating that is giving me gout I can avoid it and won’t have as many flare-ups, is that right?”
Doctor: Literally laughs out loud “aaaaaaaaaaa no. Evidence for dietary based management of gout is very sketchy at best. Take the pills. Where did you even hear that?”
Me: “Your nurse said it to me…?”
The people who swear that eating a Ph balanced diet will fix their problem. ¨I only eat alkaline foods and feel so much better. Of course I don´t have to check my blood sugar. That a1c number does not tell you anything¨ as I am wrapping up their dying diabetic ulcered foot. Your body stays in Ph balance on its own because anything outside of 7.35-7.45 is a steep quick slope to death.
Two main contenders:
Young adult woman comes in with garden variety UTI symptoms. She’s terrified and distraught. Apparently good old Dr. Google told her SHE has prostate cancer.
A different young woman comes into the ER complaining of painful urination and blood in the urine. This time Dr. Google informed her she most certainly has bladder cancer.
(Dis?)honorable mention: “healthy” adult guy, refused Covid vaccination, who I’m admitting for hypoxia from Covid. Demanding I treat him with ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Because the internet says they are magical cures.
Almost forgot about one from residency. Fellow has severe heart failure (functioning at 5%) and a giant blood clot in his heart that could cause a stroke/death at any time. Refuses an implanted defibrillator because “electromagnetic waves will poison his brain and heart”. Refused to take warfarin (a blood thinner to dissolve the dangerous clot) because it’s “rat poison” and demanded to be prescribed Coumadin instead. For those who didn’t know, Coumadin IS warfarin. He also subjected me to a long rant once about the horrible doctors who wanted him to take “chemotherapy” for a UTI. The “chemotherapy” was ciprofloxacin, a commonly used antibiotic for, among other things, UTIs.
Not a doctor. As a transplant recipient, I have to take immunosuppressant medication for the rest of my life. There are studies that some people do come off them completely, but it’s such a huge risk to take that it may trigger organ rejection.
A family member of mine still can’t grasp how a life saving surgery provided by western medicine which initially saved my life, is still keeping me back from living my life. He suggested that I get off my immune suppressants because I am a cash cow for big pharma.
Not a doctor, but a nurse. I had a brief (16 months) stint as a sexual health nurse. So, apparently this bro had read about some people using xylocaine (local anesthetic) to prolong their erection. He failed to read that it also numbs the area. He used a full tube of the gel and managed to rub himself raw.
Not a doctor but went to an urgent care for concerns about an unusually high resting heart rate and just high heart rate in general which was very worrisome but kind of expected (as well as feeling kind of unwell overall) after being on 50mg strattera for ADHD and depression. The NP said that it was likely from strattera being a stimulant, to which I replied that it was a non-stimulant that I was prescribed for both depression and ADHD symptoms but was curious about if my increase was normal. She looked annoyed and said “look I think I know that ADHD medications are stimulants mmkay? And I’ve read about strattera online: it’s not an antidepressant” and I said “okay well my psychiatrist specifically put me on this medication to help depression and ADHD as a non-stimulant.” She responded with “I’ll get you a printout of your visit and info to know about your stimulant.” She returned without info about my “stimulant”, so I asked innocently about the strattera printout and she responded “have a nice day” with some attitude LMAO
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