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Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Suz could write you a song about her love {platonic} and admiration {deep} for her pediatrician, Dr. Ross. From a peanut allergy to passing out spells to googling gone wrong, he's been a calm, cosmic guiding light in her role as a mom. He is here with us today to share some online resources so you, too, can be a realistic, well-informed parent.

My name is Dr. Michael Ross. I am a general Pediatrician at Husson Pediatrics, in Bangor Maine. In my practice, I have the pleasure of working with 7 superb pediatrician colleagues. My partners and I work together to provide coordinated care to the patients in our practice, for the betterment of their health and wellness.

In the last decade, we have been joined by a new partner. She has grown to play a tremendous part in our group. Perhaps you’ve met her?

Her name is Dr. Google.

Dr. Google has been a great asset to our practice. I know that before I enter the exam room, my parents have usually consulted Dr. Google for advice:

• Is my toddler coming down with allergies or a cold? Do I need to be worried about either one?

• Why is my 15 month old biting?

• How do I get my 6 year old back to sleep in his own bed?

Dr. Google is a superb pediatrician. She provides exhaustive differential diagnosis for just about anything. And she’s so fast! There is no waiting in the office, no paranoia that your child just contracted Yellow fever from the office’s playhouse. She doesn’t need an appointment. She doesn’t require pre-registration, and her co-pays are never “out of pocket”. She doesn’t bill your insurance. She is eternally patient, infinitely accessible, and always on call. She even does house calls.

Who could ask for a better partner?

Unfortunately, Dr. Google has some disadvantages as well. While parents appreciate her speed and detail, she is sometimes accused of “lacking a filter”. She often produces contradictory advice, even when questioned about the same topic. She doesn’t organize information based on the latest research – a dangerous approach, given the rapidly progressive and evolutionary nature of medicine. Some of her information carries a commercial bias, increasingly frowned upon in this age of transparency. Dr. Google has been accused of collecting the information you search for, raising confidentiality concerns. And most unfortunately, some of her information is just…wrong. Not all of it - not even most of it. But a good amount (I would estimate about 10-20%) of Dr. Google’s advice is questionable. And while that doesn’t sound like much, consider a search result yielding 10 hits - 2 will be of questionable validity.

In this guest blog, my hope is to introduce to you some other “partners” to serve as information sources for you and your family. And while I would encourage you to continue to use “Dr. G”, I would urge you to consult these sources first.

The AAP’s parent/patient-friendly website. Chock-full of advice on most general pediatric topics, from well-child care to acute illness care. Includes the best “symptom checker” of all the sites I investigated. A great first-stop.


UpToDate is a well-regarded source of information that doctors use to review topics pertinent to patient care. If your doctor ever steps out of the room to “review the latest research”, you can bet they are headed to query uptodate. The newer patient portal side is equally impressive. A great source for both quick synopsis and detailed reviews.
The best site available for concerns regarding developmental delay. Highlights of this fantastic site include useful videos that compare behavior of children exhibiting developmental delay with those at age-appropriate levels. The best place to go for those nagging questions about your child’s development.


Your tax dollars at work! Two public health sources of information. The cdc site is very dense, but a great source of information. The “healthy living” section is particularly detailed. Pub med health is the patient portal for pub med, a longstanding aggregate of articles physicians use to access the latest articles.

WebMD: Better Information. Better Health.

A popular site, but with a very heavy commercial bias. Drug company advertisements abound here, as evidenced by the 4 links to ADHD information on the main page, all of which bring you directly to medication “webvertisements”. Beware of bias!

Of course, after all your research, it is essential that you discuss your concerns with your doctor. While the web can get things started, nothing can replace the detailed history, years of training, clinical exam, and experience of a clinician. And while your symptoms and the web might match on one level, the detailed understanding of health from a physician is needed to put these symptoms and concerns into perspective.

Happy searching!

Dr. Michael Ross MD, FAAP

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At April 27, 2011 at 5:56 PM , Blogger Jess said...

Thank you very much for such GREAT resources!!! You gals are fantastic!

At April 27, 2011 at 5:56 PM , Blogger Jess said...

Gals, And Dr. Ross!

At April 28, 2011 at 8:09 AM , Blogger A Dance With Grace said...

Very informative!!! Thanks ladies!


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