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Using Caution When Getting Medical Advice from Facebook

Surprisingly, it’s OK to get simple advice from Facebook friends, but what about those who seek out advice of all medical types from social media outlets? Friends are very eager to share, but their advice isn’t always sound, or safe. No matter how well-meaning someone’s advice is, the wrong advice could kill. It is important to know when to share, what to share, and how to respond to the wealth of advice that will flow from the responses to a cry for help.

In an article recently printed on, David Katz, MD, speculates that it’s fine to ask for

medical advice on Facebook, as long as the responses are considered with a certain level of caution. The article discusses a model who shared a bee sting on Facebook, and received “diagnoses” of everything from a bee sting to Lyme disease from her followers. Of course, no one had a medical degree, so no one knew for sure, but they were still willing to hand out answers.

If social media is being used for basic first aid or for ideas on what  a condition might be, then it’s a good idea to grab a few opinions from friends. However, if the medical issue seems serious or has been ongoing, a doctor’s advice is the only way to get the right answers. Consider Facebook as a tool for building, with the doctor as the finished product. You want to use your friends as research into possibilities, then you want to do the proper research on your own.

Remember when we would sit around a kitchen table and discuss our issues before we went to see the doctor for real answers? We would then go back to that table and tell our friends who was right, who was wrong, and what the doctor told us. Facebook is that kitchen table. It is a great place to get ideas, share thoughts and hear others’s stories, but it should never be the final answer.

Additionally, if you get any advice that you feel you should discuss with the doctor, feel free to do so, but trust your doctor. If you have a good relationship with your doctor, and you should, then he or she will listen to your concerns and help you deal with them. If your Facebook friends think you have epilepsy, ask your doctor for the signs and symptoms, then review your medical records together to see if your medical past matches that theory. Your friends are concerned for you, but they do not have the same medical history as your doctor.

In the end, your doctor and you should make medical decisions together. Facebook should be used as a very basic research tool where you sit around with your friends and discuss what’s on your mind. It should be used with the highest level of caution.

If you want to know more about websites and medical information, contact Vancouver Home Health Care Agency. At Vancouver Home Health Care Agency, Caring and Compassion is our business.

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