Don’t ruin your health by depending on inauthentic medical information on the internet: Rituporna Bhattacharjee

Last Updated on August 25, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Rituporna Bhattacharjee, MPT, is a Neuro-Physiotherapist. She currently serves as an Assistant Professor at Chandigarh University.

When a patient explains to you about their health problems, what are the most common mistakes they make in their communication?

Communication is the key feature between a patient and a doctor. But in most cases, it is the greatest hurdle that needs to be helped out for the treatment to be carried out in an easier way. They provide a vague description of their problem without fully giving the details which hinders communication and further in assessing and providing the treatment. Some patients don’t feel comfortable to tell the full details to a doctor. They feel that if they extend beyond these words, it will hamper their personal dignity. There should always be clear transparency between a doctor and a patient, then only treatment can be carried out in a smooth way.

What does health literacy mean to you, and why is it important in patient care?

I feel that with the help of health literacy, an individual is able to assess and understand health-related problems and act accordingly. It is a very important tool for patient care. Using it, patients will be better equipped to understand the pros and cons of ill health and ways to avoid it and lead a healthy life. Sometimes it’s not always possible for a patient to visit a doctor in every case. And in those scenarios, if that patient or their family members are aware, then the health of that individual can be taken care of. So, it’s really very important in accordance with patient care.

If a patient is knowledgeable about the basics of their health condition, how helpful is it for the overall treatment procedure?

According to me, every individual should always have a basic baseline about their own health status and condition. One should be aware of their body’s metabolism. It can aid in times of ill health of that individual. When a person visits the doctor for treatment, while prescribing medicines, the patient is asked whether they are allergic to any medicine or food. If the patient is aware of such basic information, it can help in the overall treatment procedure.

How much can medical misinformation impact treatment procedures?

In my opinion, medical misinformation can lead to various problems for people. Patients can harm themselves as a result of false medical information. Patients tend to read from online sites about medicines and they take it and suffer a lot of complications after it. Medicines always react according to your own body’s capability and immunity. When you go and visit a doctor and properly tell your condition, accordingly as per your case, medicines are provided to you keeping in mind your health immunity. So, by taking all in their hands by merely going through online sites, one can degrade their health. In such a situation, it can get difficult even for the doctors to treat and resolve the issues. So, it’s advisable that you visit a prescribed doctor or take suggestions before pursuing any step related to your health.

What are the most common myths or misinformation you see your patients falling prey to?

Encountering numerous such patients, especially during health camps, I’ve noticed a common trend of disregarding crucial advice. A distinct memory comes to mind from a Gurugram health camp where a woman suffering from severe back pain sought guidance. As I began explaining the necessary protocols and treatments for her recovery, her attention lasted barely a minute. She swiftly mentioned that she had come for medicine since her son found out on the internet that her condition would resolve with just a medicine and she’d be fine completely. Despite my efforts to convey the importance of professional treatment, her unwavering trust in online content prevailed. It’s intriguing how online sources sometimes hold more sway than advice from certified doctors.

What is your most common advice to patients to stay away from health misinformation online?

I have seen many patients including some of my relatives also depending on the internet for health-related information and ruining their health. People should not pay attention to online platforms with inauthentic information and content put forward by unqualified individuals. They have not studied medicine. They are just doing their own promotions.

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