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Dealing with "Web-Trained" Patient/Family Members.


Specializes in Adult/Ped Emergency and Trauma. Has 16 years experience.

My mother needs ___________, I read it online! Call her Doctor Please. (3am)

Now, before I upset anyone, I am not talking about the desperate "Cancer Families" seeking other treatment forms, or the Patient that hasn't got any better despite all Medical efforts.

You know who I'm speaking off, . . .The family member or patient that can Diagnose the Problem, form a treatment plan, and tell the doctor exactly what medications they need, and How long they need to be in the hospital. They know what labs need to be ran, and think they should have access to 24/7 MD support for the slightest idea or question.

I am not talking about the patient/family who want to better understand their diagnosis, treatment plan, options, and prognosis. I am talking about Medical Plan Mutiny!

"Can you call Dr. XXXXXXX?, I read about XXXXXXXXX on XXXXXXX.com and he is way off in left field with his treatment. I want YOU to recommend XXXXXXXX!" (2:30 AM Sunday, Day Before D/C according to Progress Note)

How do you deal with patients/family members who get an online 24 hour Medical Degree?


Specializes in ICU.

I just educate them as best I can. And ignore the annoying-ness of it. :) I have to admit, when I was in nursing school, I was a bit of a Web MD hypochondriac- difference was I never sought treatment for these things, so my family just had to deal with me.

Bortaz, MSN, RN

Specializes in CDI Supervisor; Formerly NICU. Has 12 years experience.

I always tell the parents of my babies: Stay off of Google and Wiki, they are not your friend, they are not talking about YOUR baby, they may not be accurate, they are always worst case scenario, and they WILL cause you unneeded stress of which you already have more than you need.

Sometimes they even listen.

BostonTerrierLover, BSN, RN

Specializes in Adult/Ped Emergency and Trauma. Has 16 years experience.

I hate it when they print it out, and want you to "look over this, and stick it in the chart for me."Always with parts highlighted and underlined.

" You can tell the doctor in the morning." OR " i will let the doctor know in the morning"

CoffeeRTC, BSN, RN

Has 25 years experience.

"Thank you for that information. I always recomend being educated on your illness etc. I will pass this on to the doc in the morning. Right now it is no emergency. Maybe you'd like to get some rest now. Mom will be going home tomorrow and it will be a big day"

:eek: Thats my mom :eek:

She will call me randomly "Hey, I think I have something called a pheocromocytoma, it just popped up on web MD, it says its serious, should I go to the ER"

Me: What? Why? Whats going on?

Mom: I forgot my atenolol for 2 days and my BP was 168/89 at walmart, I'm pretty sure its a hypertensive crisis

Me::eek: Stop forgetting your meds Mom!!


Specializes in Homecare, Public Health. Has 6 years experience.

While I do love my patients google and webMD moments my favorite of all time was.....

Sunday morning 8am home visit, the patient insisted I call his MD (not the oncall, his real doctor) because he was watching Animal Planet and there was this fly that had a bite which caused all of the same symptoms he had. Despite the fact he hasn't ever traveled outside this country.

I very nicely told him what a coincidence your illness causes all those symptoms too, we'll call the MD monday and see what he wants to do :)

GitanoRN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma, ER, ICU, CCU, PACU, GI, Cardiology, OR. Has 53 years experience.

needless to say, i'm so aware of this issue, and after educating the pt. and their family, i adhere with the present nurses plan, as i document, document, the issue.:cool:

Altra, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency & Trauma/Adult ICU.

I have the luxury of reinforcing that here in the ER we are focused on the Big, Bad Things which are an imminent threat to your life/limb. I cover the big concepts that I can review within about 45 seconds, smile/nod/ignore the rest, and have a glass of wine when I get home. ;)

Oh boy... I used to be an intern for this obgyn and this probably tops my list of "Most Annoying Things that Patients' Families Do."

I once had a woman bring in piles of articles about how "Vitamin D3 was not a necessity of human survival, but in fact was detrimental to our health!" It was written by some hardcore vegan lady, who I highly doubt was any sort of medical professional. I wanted to ask, "Haven't you seen those 'milk builds strong bones' commercials, lady?" :eek: But instead I just told her the doctor would be in to answer her questions shortly.

As a CNA I don't encounter graduates of the Wikipedia School of Medicine as frequently but oh man... (it is ALWAYS the women who print out the dictionary-sized stacks of WebMD "research").

CapeCodMermaid, RN

Specializes in Gerontology, Med surg, Home Health. Has 30 years experience.

What's worse....looking it up in line or seeing an ad in TV. I've had people who work in my building who have family members there call me and tell me "My mom needs_______. I saw it on television. YOU need to speak to her doctor." my response is always the same. You see ads for beer and Viagra and and and on TV. Does your mom need those, too?

MN-Nurse, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.

If It appears the pt/family is not open to receiving evidence based information (sort of like the people in the flu vaccine forums here), I enter a note for the MD in plain english. Something like, "Pt's mother saw XX drug on TV and is demanding it."

well MY MOM dispenses and follows health advice from CHAIN E-MAIL LETTERS!

One week it's about how lemons can cure *anything* from fungating cancer to brittle nails. The next week it's about how microwaves can disrupt pacemaker and make your hair fall out.

When my patients do this, I give them my best "Are you serious??" face and I think they get the point.

well MY MOM dispenses and follows health advice from CHAIN E-MAIL LETTERS!

One week it's about how lemons can cure *anything* from fungating cancer to brittle nails. The next week it's about how microwaves can disrupt pacemaker and make your hair fall out.

When my patients do this, I give them my best "Are you serious??" face and I think they get the point.

YES! I see your mom and my MIL must be buddies. I think at some point Coca-Cola was blamed for CA, my cookware was going to give me Alzheimer's, and if we'd all just drink enough filtered water and eliminate meat from our diets, why, we'd cure absolutely everything.

These emails, btw, are soon followed up with 'DON'T FALL FOR THIS SCAM...'(but of course the email itself is a hoax).

As for the OP: I once had a patient, admitted very late at night, hand me a several-page sheaf of papers (which I could see was printed out from WebMD). She then proceeded to tell me "this is how you take care of me. I printed it so you'd know what to do."

Gosh golly good darn, if only I had SOME clue what to do with a drug seeking patient who had been there like a hundred times and discharged a hundred times after the million-dollar workup that shows there's nothing wrong with her that detox/rehab couldn't fix.

I think I said something like "oh, thanks, now I won't have to wonder whether you're supposed to wear an oxygen cannula or not..."

Good thing she had that printout. She might not have survived the night otherwise. :rolleyes:


Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

I have you all beat. I had a patient's husband hand me a copy of the Constitution (pocket-size) and ask me if I had ever read it. (Yes, he was a Tea Party member.) I just thanked him for it and assured him that yes, I had read it.

Ah, I'll give you one more: first year of nursing, had a patient who did not speak English. Family gathered at bedside, all speaking Spanish. I inquired if there was someone there who would be staying with her, to help with translations and such (this was before we had a Language Line phone). It was a large family, and someone staying was actually kinda expected considering the circumstance.

But no, I had one of the fellas who was bilingual tell me---ready, here it comes--- "If you expect to make it as a nurse, you're going to have to learn Spanish." Deadpan serious. This, in an area where English is VERY CLEARLY the main language, and speaking Spanish would be a bonus, NOT an expectation.

Never mind the fact that the patient who spoke Spanish as her only language was in her early 30's, and had lived here for 15 years.

They can't bother to learn the language, not even so that they aren't helpless in a hospital, but *I'M* supposed to learn a new language to better convenience them??

My response to that guy was something like "Well, I'm going to try to understand what she wants, but if I can't, or she can't understand me, there's not much I can do. She'll have to manage". Suffice it to say, someone DID stay that night.