At the forefront of medical information

As physicians we are destined to heal, to treat.  We must also listen and empathize, educate and teach.  We must ensure that the integrity of our profession is maintained, that correct information is passed on and that we continuously update our medical knowledge.

Physicians also continue to adapt with the times, moving from face-to-face clinics to teleconsults when the pandemic struck. Although we are now back in our clinics, online consultations are here to stay. As with the evolution from broadsheets to the internet, encyclopedias to Google search
— advances in technology have helped expand the reach of communication, with a voluminous amount of information available with just a few keystrokes.

The drawback, however, is how to tell what is fact from fiction. While misinformation is information that is misinterpreted or taken out of context, disinformation is false on purpose, and is meant to mislead. Made-up news or fake news has become widespread, and it can be difficult to tell what’s true or not.

Thus, it becomes vital to have reliable sources of information.

While being informed is good, it also matters where the information is being obtained from. If patients turn to blogs or unreliable websites, the information may do more harm than good.  Websites of major hospitals meant for the general public and patients are the best to turn to for medical issues, as they usually give information that is easy to understand. Do not rely on Facebook or Instagram posts for your medical information, unless they come from reliable medical professionals or organizations. We have been fortunate to have our Doctor Diaries column for us to share our experiences and observations.

Be wary of any website or social media post with sensational headlines, such as the dangers of certain prescription medications or anything that promises a cure. False advertisements also use doctors’ names and pictures without their permission, so be cautious of these websites and articles as well. If the post is trying to sell you a medication or supplement at an exorbitant fee, or is forcing you to buy in bulk, this is also a red flag. Only buy from reputable pharmacies and retailers.

When it comes to your health, don’t believe everything you read or hear. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true. Don’t buy or take anything that is not prescribed for you without asking your physician first. And, as always, if you have questions, ask your doctor who is your best source of health information.

Brian Michael I. Cabral, a noted nephrologist, writes a weekly health column for the Daily Tribune titled The Doctor Diaries, alternating with wife Monica Therese Cating-Cabral, a respected endocrinologist.