Is your doctor googling you? - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

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Is your doctor googling you?

Some doctors are looking their patients up online to find out more information about them, and it has a controversy brewing in the medical community.

Thursday Bram was getting braces last week when her dentist confessed he had googled her prior to the appointment.

"That felt a little bit awkward for me," Bran told FOX19.

Some doctors agree with Bran that the practice of googling patients can make for an uncomfortable situation, but others say it could aide in patient care.

"This really opens up a new paradigm into how physicians and patients interact and how physicians really get to know their patients," said Dr. Haider Warraich. He admits he's searched online for patients and says doctors should only do it when patient safety is a concern.

 Dr. Molly Cooke, President of American College of Physicians, says googling patients can compromise relationships.

"It's hard for me to imagine how I would introduce into a conversation with a patient, you know you told me you don't smoke but I saw those pictures on Facebook, with you- that clearly show you smoking," Dr. Cooke said.

A case study references a woman who requested a preventative double mastectomy. When doctors thought her story didn't add up, they googled her. They found the woman had Facebook pages claiming she had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and was soliciting donations. In that case, doctors decided not to operate.

"I suppose there are instances where it might be necessary to confront a patient about a misrepresentation, but those would be rare situations," said Dr. Cooke.

Dr. Warraich said before a medical professional Googles a patient, they need to ask themselves: how is this going to benefit the patient? And if they don't have a good answer for that, log off.

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