Social Media & Medical Diagnosis: Could Your Online Doctor Kill You?
By Thought Pick

Is social media slowly replacing the traditional form of curing illnesses by doctor visits followed by diagnosis and medical prescriptions? Can social media really kill you through misdiagnosis? Should we really trust online doctors who give out free or universal drug prescriptions?

An Intro into My Train of Thoughts…

Misdiagnosis By Angela Melick

Misdiagnosis By Angela Melick

I won’t go as far as Voltaire and say, and I quote: “Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.”But I sure do agree that this quote can be applied to many “trendy” online doctor-wannabe’s who claim to have the know-how to diagnose medical issues simply through reading a bunch of symptoms!

Recently, and with the increasing reliance on social media for almost every little piece of news we read and advice we need, social media has become a place for “self-acclaimed” gurus in every field, even the critical field of medicine!

This worries me!

If you look at solid statistics, you will be able to clearly see that there are around 80,000 deaths reported annually, in the US alone, due to doctors’ mistakes and wrong diagnosis! Add to that the fact that, in these times we’re living, anything can kill you; what you eat, what you drink and even anger!

The Wheres & Hows:

It is only natural, and even more so expected, that most of you will wonder: Where did this idea spring from and how was I able to make such observations?

The answer is very simple: Linking my daily social media interaction with the recurring number of times the subject of health tips and medical advice pop ups! Allow me to demonstrate by using both Mixx and Twitter as examples…

Mixx: I visit my Mixx page almost 3 times a day and on average, amongst every 20 shared articles, there has to be roughly one related to medicine and health such as: 1) 7 Warning Signs of Cancer, 2) The Health Benefits of Tea, 3) 7 Foods that Make You Happier, 4) Healthy Food Choice during Pregnancy, and the list goes on!

Whatever the problem is, someone, somewhere on his/her blog, seems to have a fast and effective diagnosis and more often than not, a treatment that comes hand in hand with it!

But we’re not talking about diagnosing a carpet stain here are we? These are people’s lives at play!

Moving on to the bigger of the two evils: Twitter and social media “doctors”! Those are just unbelievable! Check this out:

Twitter: To clarify my point, I will list below a number of “free” health-related advice and tips, in the form of tweets, that you can find through a simple Twitter search:

  1. @prosperity66 Updated Diet Blog Easy Diet – Free Weight Loss Diet Plan For Business Women (as if all women have the same dietary needs, weight, height, medical history and perform the same physical activity throughout the day!)
  2. @brikmorris New post: Are Colon Cleansers Safe To Use For Weight Loss (who is Casy Wigwire, the author of this post? Is she a certified doctor?)
  3. @maracig After Cancer Treatment: Health Tips Everyone Needs To Know (posted by “nickname” on a blog with a slogan that reads “for everything” so it has to be 100% true! Really?)
  4. @DietMagic Health Nutrition Tip: Cancer Nutrition Tips (Again, who posted this? A doctor? A cancer survivor? And do these nutrition tips work for everyone, regardless of their medical history and current allergies or nutritional needs?)

Allow me to stop here because I’m sure you kind of can see where this is headed! Please, humor me, do your own research and you’d see the huge number of different similar and opposing health and medical tips and advice, like a one size fits all blouse! Ridiculous!

Sadly, There’s More!

And now, let us unveil that “scariest” form of new age “medicine” healers: The Crack Doctors! Somehow, day after day, we are sucked into this notion of healing injuries, diseases and malignant tumors with energy! Even worse, herbs are now being prescribed to solve almost every medical condition that “real” doctors failed to cure, all that for “some amount of money, with no guarantees whatsoever!”

Now, let’s fact it, social media played a great role in promoting these kinds of practices and “healing” methods, I’d even go as far as seeing: “It motivated them!”

Concluding Advice:

Finally, and to sum up this article, I’d like to reiterate the following question for you to think about: Should we really trust online doctors who give out free or universal drug prescriptions? My answer would be a definite “No” but if you still see otherwise, please don’t mind sharing and explaining your point of view below.

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Tarek is the founder and chief researcher at Youngberry, a youth research and marketing firm dedicated to the region. Tarek founded and previously worked as Manager at Flip Media (Interactive Agency), (Job Site) and Consulting House Qatar (Consulting firm). He is researcher and writer on internet & disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, and youth culture.