New GP guidelines to combat ‘Dr Google’

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Australians are increasingly turning to “Dr Google” for answers to medical questions before seeking unsuitable tests and treatments in the real world.

This worrying trend has prompted GPs to launch a new guide to help doctors and patients navigate tricky and complex conversations.

It covers conditions such as lower back pain, thyroid issues, and genetic testing.

Co-author Mark Morgan, professor of general medicine at Bond University, said there was a great need to provide easily accessible evidence-based advice.

“Dr. Google is both a problem and a help,” he told AAP.

“It’s really helpful for people to look into their own health care and find information, but sometimes that information is of poor quality.”

The guide is designed to help patients understand why they may need to live with an element of uncertainty and explains why heavily promoted treatments may not work.

“This isn’t a ‘don’t’ or ‘never do’ list, it’s a guide for respectful conversations to try to get people on the same page about the best path forward “, said Dr. Morgan.

“You can’t do all the tests available for every condition for every person, it would cause harm by doing too much testing and finding things that are incidental and unrelated to the condition.”

The resource will be launched at a Royal Australian College of General Practitioners conference on Friday, alongside guidelines for mental health consultations and billing.

Industry leaders will give presentations on current issues including medical assistance in dying, climate change, rural health and family violence.

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