The Cyberchondriac: Managing the Difficult Patient

There is an interesting series over at QuantiaMD on Managing the Difficult Patient. Presentations are available for viewing as long as you sign up for with your email. One such presentation was originally called The Patient Who Knows too much but has been changed to The Cyberchondriac.

Mary Modahl  who is QuantiaMD Chief Communications Officer said after the original title was added

 “‘The Patient Who Knows Too Much’ is a very poor title. Certainly a patient can never know too much. In every way, we’re supportive of doctors meeting their patients’ need for care.”

Dr. Joseph Scherger, vice president for primary care at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California, defines a Cyberchondriac in the presentation:

“This is a patient who is on the internet…indiscriminate with the material they are reading…they consider themselves an expert yet often their true medical knowledge is limited…they are pushing you to do things based on their information.”

Dr. Scherger takes a jab at Cyberchondriacs and says

“…sometimes these patients are very overweight, they are on the internet all the time…”

He also says that if a patient is going to bring in a stack of materials from the internet they should send it in advance and not just expect the doctor to have the time to go over everything and check the sources at the visit.

One of the problems in the presentation discussed by Dr. Gerald Hickson, director of the center for patient professional advocacy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, is how a patient may see a medical doctor and then go see a subsequent provider. This subsequent provider may engage in jousting and being critical of the other doctor and possibly even suggest they take legal action. He urges physicians to not be so critical of other providers as they may not know all the information.

I often question the quality of information found on the internet and know that it can be extremely difficult to learn what the truth is even if the source is reputable as I have discussed in some detail here


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