Googling for a diagnosis?use of Google as a diagnostic aid: internet based study BMJ 333 : 1143 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39003.640567.AE (Published 10 November 2006)
To determine how often searching with Google (the most popular search engine on the world wide web) leads doctors to the correct diagnosis.
Internet based study using Google to search for diagnoses; researchers were blind to the correct diagnoses.
One year’s (2005) diagnostic cases published in the case records of the New England Journal of Medicine.
26 cases from the New England Journal of Medicine; management cases were excluded.
＜Main outcome measure＞
Percentage of correct diagnoses from Google searches (compared with the diagnoses as published in the New England Journal of Medicine).
Google searches revealed the correct diagnosis in 15 (58%, 95% confidence interval 38% to 77%) cases.
As internet access becomes more readily available in outpatient clinics and hospital wards, the web is rapidly becoming an important clinical tool for doctors. The use of web based searching may help doctors to diagnose difficult cases.
We selected a convenient sample of one year’s (2005) diagnostic cases presented in the case records of the New England Journal of Medicine. We excluded management cases. After discussion, we selected three to five search terms from each case record and entered them on a data sheet. We then did a Google search for each case while blind to the correct diagnoses (that is, before reading the differential diagnosis and conclusion of each case record). We selected and recorded the three most prominent diagnoses that seemed to fit the symptoms and signs. We then compared the results with the correct diagnoses as published in the case records.