The Internet is a tool that has become invaluable. Access to a world of medical information at a moment’s notice is now the norm. Many of my patients have done a good amount of online research before we have even met. They are informed and ready to hear more about their procedure of interest.
I also participate in the online Q&A forum, RealSelf.com. This website lets you ask questions of surgeons relating to plastic surgery. I find it interesting that there are so many post-operative questions on the site, asking if what the patients are seeing is normal for their course. I always wondered why these patients (who entrusted their care to a surgeon to change their body) wouldn’t just ask their surgeon the question they posted online.
The doctor-patient relationship is very important. The personal communication and personal decision making makes it unique. Once that relationship has been established, questions about care are more easily made because the doctor really knows that patient, especially in the post-operative period.
Some time ago in my office, a patient who came in for a postoperative visit with a minor problem that had bothered her for days. When I asked why she didn’t call me, she said she had checked about it on the Internet. She did not want to bother me. Luckily, the issue was minor and passed with a change of medication.
I want my patients to have a good outcome, and I want to care for them until they have healed, and even beyond that. But I can’t help if I don’t know! So please, if you have a question about surgery, don’t go to the Internet. JUST ASK!
If the question is after hours but urgent, my answering service can track me down. Let me (not the internet, not a doctor who doesn’t know you) treat you. It’s my job.
I take pride in the work that I do. Part of my job is to care and making sure you have the correct information, so please reach out.
Dr Danielle DeLuca-Pytell