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Finding medical advice on the internet

Signpost, by Matt from London, on flickr

Signpost, by Matt from London, on flickr

[Note: This is a guest post by Jon Yates from Hero Consulting]

I’m sure Lysa would agree that us medical staff get asked for medical advice A LOT. Just this week I got asked for my opinion on a three week old finger injury. The gentleman hadn’t worried about seeking advice before, but having stumbled across me in the course of his day he wanted to know what I thought.

Questions, Questions

But i’m not just talking about when we’re on duty … I get just as many questions when i’m OFF DUTY. Anyone who knows you have a medical background wants to ask your advice. Luckily, I know how to search on google and find the answers I need when the questions i’m faced with are outside the scope of my education. But for those without medical knowledge, searching google for advice can be a virtual minefield. How do you know which websites to trust? How do you know whether the advice you’re being given is sound? I’m going to list here a few websites you can use when you need medical advice.

NHS Direct

NHS Direct has now joined forces with NHS Choices and you can access medical advice from the NHS homepage.  The title link above links to the medical advice homepage so that you can get to the advice quickly from this article.  From there you can click through to the symptom checker and search by either the name of your symptom or by the body system it is affecting.  You then answer a series of yes/no questions to determine the severity of your symptoms and then receive advice on how best to manage your condition.

Patient UK

Patient UK prides itself on the quality of information it provides and I have spoken to GPs who have confirmed that they use the site to standardise the advice they give to patients.  There is a great amount of information on the site, including many patient information leaflets.

CKS

If you want a greater depth of information and advice than Patient UK offers, it might be worth checking out the NHS Clinical Knowledge Summaries.  Be warned, they are targeted more torwards health professionals, but equally the depth of information contained within the site and downloadable guides and leaflets makes it a worthy resource.

FSID

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths have produced a great booklet called Baby Check. It helps parents to determine whether their baby (under 6 months old) needs to see a doctor according to the severity of the signs and symptoms they are having. Be sure to read the advice on the FSID website before downloading the book, but it is certainly something to take along to your health visitor and have a chat about. I’m going to print out a copy and keep it with me when i’m working!

More?

There are many more websites on the internet that provide quality information but this post was not intended to be an exhaustive list. Are there any sites you particularly like to use? Be sure to share them in the comments.

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