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Self-Diagnosis. A Good Idea?

By Jason Weinstein.
Fatigue, rashes, lumps - these are the kinds of symptoms that make many of us run straight to the internet for a diagnosis.

"Patients are, of course always a little more nervous. They see a diagnosis pop up that is a dire prediction. So a cancer diagnosis or this could be a dreaded disease," said Marita Florini, DNP of Lourdes Hospital.

But a recent Harvard study showed on-line Symptom checkers listed the correct diagnosis first in 34 percent of cases. The correct diagnosis was included in the top three diagnoses in the list in 51 percent of cases and in the top 20 in 58 percent.

"I think you need to understand what your symptoms are. And, again, try to talk that over with a professional," said Florini.

One problem, says Florini, is some become so convinced by their internet research they simply go to the doctor's office looking for the doctor to confirm and act on their digital diagnosis.

"If you're walking into a provider office with a feeling of antagonism, a feeling of 'it's me against you,' there's a problem with that relationship," said Florini.

The authors of the Harvard study say getting the exact diagnosis on line isn't as important as whether or how quickly someone should get to the doctor.

"We're hearing, 'I'm not feeling good and I think it's this disease.' What we should be saying is, 'I'm not feeling good, here are my symptoms. I've researched the internet. I've come up with some ideas, now would you look at me and what do you think?'" said Florini.

Florini says when she researches symptoms on the internet she sticks to reputable medical sights, such as the one from Johns Hopkins medical school.

****In Vestal, Jason Weinstein, Fox 40 HD News****