Misinformation can severely impact healthcare decisions: Dr Sagar Gupta

Last Updated on December 7, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Dr Sagar Gupta, MBBS, MD( Internal medicine), DM( nephrology), currently works as a Consultant in the Department of Nephrology and Kidney Transplantation at Metro Heart Institute with Multispecialty. He holds a decade of experience in his field.

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

One common error people make when communicating with a doctor is presenting unique symptoms or issues that might not be indicative of an actual medical condition. These individuals may have acquired information from various sources, leading them to believe that they are experiencing a particular ailment without a clear basis for such concerns.

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

Increased health literacy and awareness in patients can significantly benefit care providers and doctors. Such patients often exhibit better disease management and treatment outcomes for their conditions.

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

It is very helpful. When patients possess a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of their health condition or the disease process, it enhances their ability to communicate effectively. This mutual comprehension allows us to provide clearer explanations regarding the reasons behind the disease and the specific measures required to manage and treat it.

How much can medical misinformation impact treatment procedures?

With the exponential growth of data on the internet, there is a noticeable increase in the dissemination of misinformation. Patients may be influenced by such inaccurate information, leading them to deviate from established treatment procedures. This deviation has the potential to exacerbate their condition and worsen overall outcomes.

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

In discussions about kidney problems, many misinformation or myths are circulating, and patients often come across these misconceptions. For instance, a common myth suggests that once dialysis commences, a patient cannot discontinue it. This is untrue, especially in cases of acute kidney injury where dialysis typically ceases. Another misconception is the belief that initiating dialysis results in a short lifespan. However, in reality, many young dialysis patients can live for more than two decades with the assistance of a dialysis machine.

Some patients have heard kidney transplant is not right and the kidney doesn’t work for more than a year or two, which is wrong. Often kidney transplants last an average of 8 to 12 years and related transplants can last even for more than two to three decades. Alternate forms of therapy can reverse chronic kidney disease stage 5 and the patient can stop dialysis. I usually advise all my patients that it is fair enough to give any other treatment a chance. But if you’ve been declared a case of CKD stage 5 or advised dialysis, do not discontinue that treatment and it is okay to try the additional treatment.

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

As the amount of data out there on the internet is growing exponentially, we all have experienced a significant spread of misinformation. It’s important to emphasise that you cannot universally apply treatment information to everyone. Patients should be mindful of this and engage in discussions with their doctors to determine what is suitable and unsuitable for their specific circumstances.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay updated about fake news trending on social media, health tips, diet tips, Q&A and videos - all about health