How good is “Dr. Google”?

Not all health information provided by the search engine is accurate, true or reputable. Therefore, the question arises: How good is Dr. Google?

Information on the Internet can be helpful. However, it cannot replace many years of study, training and many years of professional experience. The quality of these texts should be carefully checked. Good texts are characterized by the following features:

  • The author of the texts is named.
  • The author’s competences are traceable through his education, certificates and professional experience.
  • The sources of clinical studies are mentioned.
  • Influences on the content of the texts by the pharmaceutical/medical device industry, health insurance companies or interest groups in the health care system are disclosed.
  • Alternative treatment methods are discussed.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of a treatment are described.
  • The texts contain no promises of cure.
  • The limits of a treatment are shown.

What does “evidence-based” mean?

Recommendations for treatment, examination or prevention must be based on facts. Such facts must be reliably verifiable by several people. Scientific facts are provided in studies. These facts or facts are also called evidence. Statements that refer to the results of scientific studies are called evidence-based.

The significance of studies can be divided into levels:

  • Reports on a single case and expert opinions have less significance than reports on several cases (case series).
  • Case series have a lower significance than the study of a group of affected persons and the direct comparison with unaffected persons (case-control study).
  • The practitioner and the patient can influence the treatment and its outcome. Studies in which neither the practitioner nor the patient know which drug was administered are protected from these falsifying influences. The method is called blinding. If chance decides which patient gets which treatment, another distorting influence is eliminated. This approach is called randomization. Blinded randomized trials are of higher quality than case-control studies.
  • The findings from several good and comparable high-quality studies have the highest significance.

The Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has advanced the development and teaching of evidence-based decision making in medicine since 1995.

Studies are further differentiated according to quality criteria. The examination of many patients after several years and a careful statistical review speak for a good study. Multiple procedures to detect a disease are usually more reliable than a single examination. Age, body weight, cigarette smoking, regular alcohol consumption or the use of medication can influence the outcome of a disease. A good study is characterised by the consideration and evaluation of interacting influencing variables.

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors issues guidelines for the publication of scientific studies according to ethical and scientific principles. Over five thousand scientific journals have adopted these recommendations in their guidelines. Transparent description of methods and disclosure of bias is standard practice in scientific journals.

Independent reputable sources

Balanced and trustworthy information must be obtained before any decision is taken. CenterPlast attaches great importance to the education of your patients. Our surgeons help you to understand complex interrelationships to the best of their knowledge and belief. Only as a team do doctors and patients arrive at the best possible decision. Proven and experienced experts from science and patient care have formed networks and working groups. The aim of these organizations is to examine all available facts to help doctors and patients weigh up the benefits and risks. The following sources are reputable, transparent and independent:

The author

Unsere Fachärzte für Plastische Chirurgie Saarbrücken
Dr. med. Stéphane Stahl

“We provide you with extensive expert knowledge so that we can work with you to select the best possible treatment path.”

Dr. med. Stéphane steel is the former director of the Clinic for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery / Hand Surgery at the Lüdenscheid Clinic. Dr. Stahl studied medicine at the Universities of Freiburg and Berlin. In 2011 he passed the European and 2012 the German specialist examination for plastic and aesthetic surgery. Further specialist qualifications and additional qualifications followed (including quality management, medical didactics, physical therapy, emergency medicine, laser protection officers, hand surgery) as well as prizes and awards. In 2015 he completed his habilitation in plastic and aesthetic surgery in Tübingen. He is an experienced microsurgeon, a sought-after expert and a regular speaker at specialist congresses. After a multi-stage selection process, Stéphane Stahl became a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), one of the world’s largest and most influential specialist societies for aesthetic surgery. His authorship includes numerous articles in respected peer review journals and standard surgical textbooks.

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