MPS urges caution on internet self-diagnosis

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) is highlighting the increasing trend towards self-diagnosis by patients using the internet.

Dr Stephanie Bown, MPS director of policy and communications, said: ‘Difficulties can arise from lay interpretation of potentially complex medical information and terminology, and the variable quality of the information available. These factors can contribute to both incorrect self-diagnosis and misplaced patient expectations.

‘GPs are faced with the additional challenges of managing these expectations as they revisit diagnosis and treatment options. These challenges need to be handled sensitively in order to avoid precipitating patient dissatisfaction or complaints.

‘It is important that the doctor doesn’t feel pressurised into providing treatment they don’t feel is appropriate or in the patient’s best interests. A doctor should never prescribe outside the limits of their own knowledge and competence, and remains responsible for all prescribing decisions even when pressurised by patients.’

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