Kynysca asked in Science & MathematicsMedicine · 1 decade ago

Do you think there are consequences for those affected by people at Y!A posing as doctors?

I have seen MD or PhD listed as a source many times and sometimes it is clear that these answerers possess, neither. I don't want to single anyone out, but, if someone needs examples, I have them.

I don't *know* whether certain people are who they say they are as a provision of "source", but, I think this is something that can at least be partially revealed in an answer. There are many regulars in this section that I suspect list their real qualifications as a source. But, there are some posers, particularly in the Health section that can not be doctors of any kind even though they list the title. If some of these do possess MD's or PhD's or are indeed "medical students", well, I hope I will never be attended by them.

It's important, I think, to note that there may be consequences that affect people's lives that supersede selfish egos, that should be taken into account when dishing out misrepresented info to those deeply concerned --maybe even desperately so-- about the only thing that ultimately matters: health and well-being. What say you?


Thanx, min :-). There are many reasons people would inquire after their health, here. Some people can't afford to see a doctor, at all or for every little thing; other times, they have seen MANY doctors and have a complicated or complex issue that can not readily be diagnosed--they are desperate.

There are real doctors as well as many knowledgeable others at Y!A. They DO help many, many people. It is erroneous to think that they can not and have not done so. Often, more time is spent on a patient, here, than in a formal setting. One may obtain the opinions of many knowledgeable doctors, nurses, and others, all at once.

Update 2:

Thanx, midnightmoon62: I think they do mostly for the "ego stroke". The impact on the other, considered secondary, or not all, relative to it, or points, even the prospect of a best answer. It bugs me ;-) :-).

Update 3:

Thanx, Jay D: repugnant is the right word, for sure. I suppose people can pretend to be what they want to be on the internet. It's just too bad that they have to use the lives of others for selfish ends.

Update 4:

LOL, The Great Flamingo. Good points about their not being any deterrent. Thanx, man :-).

Update 5:

Yeah, Yarbigy, thanx. The provision of directives are valuable for one's own research. But, in terms of the net being no replacement for an in-life doctor? Not always. This is just my anecdote, of course, to exemplify why I would disagree, but I know people who have been helped on this site with chronic illnesses that their in-life doctors (plural) couldn't figure out. Sometimes this was through a directive, but, in other instances, it was far more than that.

Update 6:

opps, please excuse the spelling errors. "Their" should have been "there", above.

Update 7:

You could add your name to that list too, AzR :-). I like Brrr's answers too and of course mdGreg C's, as well. There are many others too. Your answers are always an informative read.

Update 8:

Oh, also Steven K, if you've read him. Good stuff. Anyway, many others, too that I can't immediately bring to mind...

Update 9:

Thanx, curlyQ :-). I simply object to those who pose as doctors by listing lies as a source. I find it odd, in general that people use the source space to list their qualifications, in general, really. Having a title does not necessarily imply that one's word should be believed as truth. I prefer uneqivocal, supportive, hard evidence.

I certainly do not dispute the fact that many people without an MD or PhD know just as much, or even in some cases, much more about certain things. I have known more than one "expert" simply hiding behind a title.

Update 10:

AzR: perhaps what is worse than this, is those who take advantage of others in an effort to stroke themselves, in another way: Anything from dimuting others for spelling errors to encouraging an already suicidal person to take the plunge, disgusts me.

Update 11:

Thanx, Brrrr :-). I certainly don't take it personally. It's disconcerting, I guess, though, that this fraud will inevitably impact people's lives, at least, in some way. There are many scenarios that can be brought to mind.

Update 12:

Thanx, liljo :-). Exercising caution is important. BTW: I don't think I've answered one question in my field, ever, and probably for the same reasons you cite :-) :-).

Update 13:

liljo: not so much, risk, but, definitely as a means to distract from my own, relevant area.

Update 14:

Thanx, RM. Your last paragraph: I have seen this, too. Erroneous titles carrying weight.

Update 15:

mdGreg C: Thanx, man. I agree. Heresay even behind a title doesn't do very much for me if it is also not accompanied by evidence.

I love the quote, by the way. I can use that :-).

Update 16:

Excuse me, I spelled hearsay incorrectly, above....

Update 17:

Thanx, Pangolin :-). Seuss? Oh, gawd that's funny :-).

Update 18:

Thanx, psyengine :-). RM may disagree with you. Me? I have no idea. It IS unethical. In terms of consequences? It is my contention that posing as a doctor may very well have deleterious consequences for those seeking help/direction/advice, even despite the weight placed on it.

Update 19:

Thanx, RM :-). That makes sense.

16 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yes, It is Nice if Someone Backs Up What they Say With an Independent Source.

    EDIT: Like I Used to Say Frequently: "Excuse me, but your Word isn't Good Enough".

    EDIT: Thanks K.

    EDIT: Thanks RM, you Would Think, At Least With Regards to Major Stuff, More Information Would Be Required.

    EDIT: Pan, I've Seen Many Quackerpracters Call Themselves "Physician". Check your Yellow Pages.

  • 1 decade ago

    I haven't seen it that often, although I tend to stick to the Medicine category rather than the Health category--where I suspect it may be more common. I *can* think of at least one question I saw a few months ago in which an answerer claimed to be an MD and told the question-asker to stop taking antibiotics he was prescribed. I reported the answer to Y!A because it was clearly harmful advice, but unfortunately I don't think it was taken down.

    Truthfully, I haven't seen that many questions on here whose answers would result in significant consequences--so I don't worry about it too much. If the question involves advice about what to do I will usually tell what I know about the different options and suggest they consult their doctor. If a question involves making a serious diagnosis I will usually just say they should go talk with their doctor without answering the question (a few months ago I saw a question in which the guy put up his MRI report and asked what it meant--without actually having seen the images, I'm pretty sure the guy had cancer).

    I can understand why people come here for help sometimes. It is convenient, free, anonymous, and a hell of a lot less intimidating than going to a doctor's office. Still I hate it when people come here when they should be talking to someone face-to-face. I recall another question in which the person had actually spoken to a pharmacist in person, then posted his question here because he didn't believe him. I wrote an answer in which I pretty much called the guy an idiot for trusting anonymous people on Y!A over a licensed pharmacist he actually met. As you can probably guess, I did not get 10 points for that one.

    For most clinical questions, I don't list my qualifications. I do this because I don't want people to come here and believe they are getting expert advice.

    ADDENDUM: Y!A doesn't really do enough to prevent things that are potentially harmful. Besides the example I listed above, I also remember an example in which a question asked for a reaction that would make a toxic chemical safe. Some jerk answered with a reaction that would create an explosive (without mentioning that it created an explosive). I reported the answer indicating that it could potentially cause physical harm to the question-asker. It was not taken down. In contrast, if there is a question/answer that is verbally abusive or clearly just spam, it gets taken down within hours of a complaint. I can understand that they don't have time to go through and check every answer and certainly don't have experts on staff, but when someone with a good track record (like me) suggests that an answer could result in someone getting hurt, I would think they should at least check it out.

  • 1 decade ago

    I sometimes like to watch House, M.D., and once I even saw half an episode of Grey's Anatomy. Are you suggesting that this somehow makes me less qualified than an actual doctor to diagnose someone with lupus over the internet? Just because my advice always deals with rare diseases such as Klein-Levin Syndrome and necrotizing faciitis doesn't mean it is ill-conceived or laced with poorly understood and hastily drawn conclusions.

    Okay, so it probably does. I don't usually answer questions in the medicine category because . . . and this may come as a shock, I don't know a damn thing about medicine. It interests me, and I like to read about it, but when it comes to health advice, I have no real idea what I am talking about, so I abstain from "helping." I'll leave that to the knowledgeable people, otherwise known as professionals.

    As for why, I think you nailed it when you mentioned ego. If someone without a medical degree walked into a hospital and just started giving advice, they would be seen quickly for what they are, a fraud. In fact, they might even be sent to the psych ward for a quick evaluation. On the internet, however, people might take you seriously, and this makes people feel good about themselves. And even if you aren't taken seriously, what does it matter, there isn't any deterrent. If someone is an idiot in person, they usually suffer humiliation or criticism, which makes them less likely to be an idiot in the future and might even lead them to do some research. On the internet . . . I think you get the point.

    All the best.

  • RM
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I look at it from the other side. Why would a real physician list his qualifications? (I actually think that most listing this qualification are really physicians). He has now put himself forward as a physician and answered someone's question...frankly, I think this creates liability in that he provided medical counsel and can be held accountable for it. I'd be interested in hearing what the lawyers have to say about the malpractice side of this.

    In addition, occasionally that "counsel" which they gave is really really bad or really really wrong and their "qualifications" get them extra attention/credibility for their misinformation. I also have examples.

    Edit: I wouldn't disagree with Psyengine re the legality of impersonation on Y!A. I was really getting at the liability for someone who IS a medical doctor when then ACCURATELY represents that fact who then gives questionable advice that is followed. I think someone could claim they were acting on the advice of a physician and could sue. Is there liability there? - I think so though I'm sure it would be difficult to pursue.

    Edit 2: I also agree with mdGregC that its better to have a source than a credential claim. However, I see time and again a credential getting more weight than a post with references despite CLEAR FACTUAL ERRORS which could be verified if one were to read the references given or just do an independent search.

    Source(s): May or may not be a healthcare provider of some ilk
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I too am a real MD, but rarely answer medical questions here for obvious reasons of risk & because I work with medicine all day long. I have looked at some absurd answers however. I really think that it is very risky to answer medical questions without being able to examine the person in question. Other than that, with the little time I have on here, I would rather pursue other topics of interest & get my mind off of medicine & illness for a brief period. Everyone should be extremely careful when getting any medical advice from this site, you just never know who you are dealing with or their true motivation.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I do think it effects people. I spend a lot of time in the cancer section, where there are a couple of legit oncologists that hang around. But there are also some who are not, and people who claim to be passing on correct info that clearly have no idea what they are talking about. And of course, the reply is, well, you shouldnt be getting medical advice on the net anyways. And I bet every single person who says that has their own, very nice, medical insurance policy that will pay for them to go to the doc and have expensive tests.

    I am not medically educate, only know what I know from the research I have done during my own treatment, and I tend to tell people that, but even when I dont, I most certainly dont add a false title to my post.

    I think most of these people either dont understand the reprocutions of what they are doing, or misguidedly think they are helping.

  • Az R
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Honestly, what gets me more are the nutjobs. I'd point fingers at several, but it'd probably get me reported. Razmus is notable, because he's been banned about 200 times by now.

    There are some legitimate people one here. Pangolin, Zeep, John de Witte all give excellent quality of information.

    I really hope no one totally bases any decisions on this. YA is anonymous, not particularly verifiable information, moreover, trying to verify what's posted on here is flat out impossible. By and large I think most of the very bad information gets voted down significantly and shouted out, but sometimes the ignorant, irresponsible or flat out looney comes to for. Having more information when it comes to health and medicine is only useful if it's -accurate- to some degree.

    Great Flamingo is right, there's not really any deterrent.

    And his post made me laugh.

  • curlyQ
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Jay D's answer to your question is correct in that it is awful to have those who know little about medicine to be giving medical opinions. It really does bring up ethics and moral values.

    I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nurse. I'm a CNA. I presume that Jay D (and other doctors) may believe that I should not post in this section. I can understand their perspective.

    However, in my opinion: I do have extensive experience, as both a patient and caregiver. I answer questions which I feel may be helped by sharing what I know. I often provide links to the one answering the question, so that he/she can learn more about it.

    General society (maybe a media influence?) is like a see-saw. Sometimes, people are urged to go to their doctor. Other times, people are urged to learn more and do more for themselves. It quickly becomes confusing on whether or not one should see a doctor - even regarding complicated cases. My goal is to shed light, to make necessary decision/s easier to make.

  • Brrrr
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    As a real, board certified MD, I have watched people pretending to be "doctors" for years.

    Every one from PhDs in "Cultural History" to internet college Doctors of Divinity throw the term "doctor" around.

    The term doesn't mean much anymore. Doesn't bother me.

    I am a physician, not just a doctor.

    There will always be counterfeits and frauds in any profession.

    Y!Answers is just one more medium for fakes and fraudsters. I don't take it personally and neither should you.

    More importantly, Kynysca, no one should be using an anonymous web Q/A to make medical decisions without speaking to their physician. I end almost every one of my "answers" with "ask your doctor". Responsibility and ethics. Marks of a true MD.

    Source(s): MD (believe it or not)
  • 5 years ago

    Well, if your her only friend then maybe you should tell her the truth about what you think, and seriously if she doesn't like it then tough. She wants to pretend, and she's 13? That is a bit immature. If I were you, I would give her a make over, you know teach her makeup and how to do her hair in more mature and ' stylish ' ways, that aren't boring. Bring her to the mall, get her some clothes that are for her age. It also sounds very annoying, and I know how you feel because I see girls like that in my school all the time it's like, ' Okay your 13, it's time to grow up and stop acting like your in 5th grade and start acting like your 13. ' But, maybe she just needs more time. But really I don't have a problem telling people the truth, and I don't care if they think I'm mean. If your her friend, and if your a really good friend I think she would expect you to tell her the truth, rather than allow her to suffer and fall behind in being a normal teenager. I actually feel like I was like that, I didn't want to grow up, or wear tight clothes, or have a hair style. But now I LOVE doing my hair, and I hate loose clothes, I definitely prefer tight things. I think thought, that eventually she'll mature, but you should overall stay her friend, and don't leave her behind. So yeah, good luck, & when you go to places with boys don't bring her with you, until she's ready to grow up. I also think that you should mature in the way of stop being so concerned about what other people think, and honestly your acting like someone who would rather have 20 friends that aren't that great, than one amazing friend. But I do understand what your saying and that it is frustrating, but don't ignore her, help her. [:

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