Researchers impressed by Google's medical diagnoses
Friday 10 November 2006
It may prove to be a better diagnostic tool than the stethoscope or the thermometer. Next time your doctor appears baffled over what is wrong with you, you could suggest he "google for a diagnosis".
Researchers have found that a simple Google search can solve diagnostic problems which mystify even the best GPs.
Modern medicine is so complex that the average doctor, estimated to carry around two million medical facts in his head, does not have a big enough brain to be capable of identifying every ailment presented to the surgery or clinic.
But Google gives access to more than three billion medical articles on the web and may be the most powerful diagnostic aid available to doctors. To test Google's value as a clinical tool, researchers from Brisbane University selected 26 of the hardest cases and found the search engine got the correct diagnosis in more than half of them (58 per cent) - with just a few keystrokes.
Google successfully diagnosed conditions ranging from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the degenerative brain disorder, to cat scratch disease, an infection causing lymph node swelling after an animal wound.
Writing in the online version of the British Medical Journal, they say: "Search engines allow quick access to an ever increasing knowledge base.
"Our study suggests that in difficult diagnostic cases, it is often useful to "google for a diagnosis". Doctors in training need to become proficientin [its] use."
The cases were taken from the New England Journal of Medicine which tests the diagnostic skills of its readers each week by asking them to judge what is wrong with a patient whose brief medical history and symptoms are given.
The researchers, unaware of the correct diagnosis, entered between three and five search terms and selected Google's three most prominent results that seemed to fit the symptoms.
In some cases they rejected the Google diagnosis as not being accurate enough. For example it correctly diagnosed extrinsic allergic alveolitis in a patient with breathing problems but did not specify it was "hot tub lung" caused by Mycobacterium avium, a bug that thrives in hot tubs, which are becoming increasingly popular.
tvSpolier alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Auction house to give away $1m masterpiece in charity raffle - and tickets are only $100 each
Life & Style blogs
YouTube: Top trending videos of 2013 - including Tom Daley and Peppa Pig
Chinese scientists 'increasingly confident' about invisibility cloak after making a cat disappear
The rise of goo-goo gadgets: Hey baby, nice wheels!
Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
Pirate Bay sets sail for Ascension Island after SX domain name seized by authorities
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 5 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- < Previous
- Next >
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior C# ASP.NET Deve...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: QA Automation Tester FX Trading Platform(Ruby, ...
£25000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: VB.NET SQL Developer/...
£45000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA ...