Two new catch phrases that have become popular in the recent news cycles are “fake news” and “alternative facts.” As dangerous as that can be in everyday life, it is also finding its way into the medical field. Fake news and alternative facts in the medical field can lead to not only a misunderstanding of conditions and medications, but serious danger in how people approach treatment.
Let’s take one of the most well known and widely spread bits of misinformation – the fight against vaccines. Nearly 20 years ago, a study was published connecting autism with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Roughly 10 years after the study was published, it was completely retracted and proven to be false. After the study was published, doctors saw a rise in parents who were unwilling to vaccinate their children due to concerns about autism. Since then, documented outbreaks of the measles, a disease that was once well under control, have occurred around the world and were attributed to non-vaccination of children. The findings of the study were proven to be false, but even so, so many people read and shared the findings of the study, using it as one of the primary or even sole reasons to not vaccinate their children. Doctors must now fight an uphill battle against this fake news and work to convince parents that autism is not caused by vaccines, while also then dealing with the rise in previously eradicated diseases.
One of the easiest ways that fake news spreads is through social media. The pro to social media is the ability to spread information quickly and to a wide audience. Unfortunately, this is also one of its biggest drawbacks. Too many people share stories and take them as the absolute truth without bothering to fact check and do independent research. Just because you see an article posted on the internet that proclaims a common household item as the best way to treat your illness doesn’t mean you should stop taking your prescriptions. Most importantly, it’s not wise to use online resources to diagnose medical conditions. At Carolina Digestive Health Associates, our team is trained in diagnostics and treatment and will work with you to determine your individual needs. Personal attention to patients leads to better health overall and should be the primary focus of all medical treatment. Contact us today with any health concern and we will make sure that your health is our top priority, not an alternative view of it.