Depending on unreliable health information on internet can have disastrous outcomes: Dr Prakhar Gupta

Dr Prakhar Gupta is consultant physician in Internal Medicine, who is currently specializing in Diabetes and Endocrinology from Royal London Hospital (UK). He has worked at tertiary care centers in Bhopal and Indore (India) and also as ICU in-charge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the best thing you enjoy about treating patients?

For me, the biggest joy while treating patients is the satisfaction of solving the puzzle while dealing with difficult cases and saving them despite everyone else losing hope. This is one of the reasons I chose Internal Medicine and critical care.

When is a patient easy to treat? 

A patient is easy to treat when the patient comes with an open mind and understands that management and treatment of condition is a team work.

When is a patient difficult to treat?

Its not uncommon these days to come across patients who come with prejudice and preconceived notions of doubting every healthcare worker they encounter. It is extremely difficult to treat someone if they firmly believe that they cannot trust doctors, which is usually a result of lots of misinformation present out there. This has especially become prevalent after the pandemic, where every step in management strategy is questioned or cross-checked with another source like internet and social media platforms.

How helpful is it to the treatment course, if the patient is knowledgeable about the treatment procedure, benefits, risks etc.?

Well, if the patient is aware about basics of the treatment, it is helpful as they know what to expect and what not to. However, too much awareness can make things difficult, as they say ‘doctors make the worst patients’!

How can a patient improve his knowledge about the treatment procedure (apart from consulting the doctor, of course)?

It is usually best to rely on patient knowledge leaflets (if available) handed out to them before proceeding with the treatment or reliable medical websites for patients rather than seeking information from random Google search as a lot of content on the internet is likely to be from non-medical professionals.

How medical misinformation act as a problem in the overall treatment procedure?

It is very big problem. Current era is not only an era of information but also a lot of misinformation. Many people have more belief in what they read on various social media platforms rather than what is conveyed by healthcare workers. This sometimes leads to patients skipping treatment or doing self medication which may have disastrous effects. I have seen this very commonly with diabetics who rely on dietary advices from relatives, friends, etc., and modify professionally advised dietary regimen (and sometimes even medication schedule) by themselves, which commonly results in not achieving expected treatment outcomes.

A few advice that you always give to your patients (about staying healthy, about escaping misinformation etc.)

A common advice that I give to my patients is that one should respect his/her body, take care of it and be mindful of what works for them and what doesn’t. One should be aware of the fact that everybody is a unique individual and something that worked for someone else might not be applicable to them and not to simply copy medications for a similar ailment from someone else’s prescription. Whenever in doubt, always seek a professional opinion.

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