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Emergency Medicine Info on the Web

A recent national survey reported that 60% of adults access health information online. Although the internet can be a helpful resource for many consumers, prior studies have suggested that the accessibility and accuracy of web-based health information are not always adequate. When patients can correctly identify risk factors and symptoms of potential medical emergencies, appropriate and timely medical care may be provided. Health information gathered from the internet may impact medical choices and outcomes. Improvements of Medical Info on the Internet In the November 2011 issue of Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, my colleagues and I published results from a study in which we sought to determine whether the completeness and accuracy of emergency medical information available online has improved over time. We evaluated medical content (descriptive information, completeness, and accuracy) on the top 15 healthcare information sites, as determined by internet traffic, for four common ED diagnoses: myocardial infarction, stroke, influenza, and febrile child. Online Exclusive: Table of Most Accurate Medical Websites According to our findings, the completeness and accuracy of online emergency medical information available to the general public has improved since 2002. Only two of 12 of the websites reviewed in 2002 boasted greater than 50% of aggregated medical information. In our study, 11 of 12 websites accomplished this feat. In addition, seven contained greater than 70% of aggregated medical information on the four common ED diagnoses we analyzed. None of the websites reviewed in 2008 contained questionable or dangerous information or recommendations, representing an improvement since 2002. Importantly, our analysis did not find a significant correlation between credentialing and completeness of website or credentialing and...
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