The Patient Who Knew Too Much
But on balance, these situations are vastly outnumbered by those where a little knowledge is a time-consuming and occasionally dangerous thing. For example, I couldn't possibly count the times when patients have stopped taking drugs I recommended because they "read" that they had side-effects.
Sometimes concerns are raised by what a patient (or his well-meaning family) has found that just has to make me smile. One time, I was rounding on an elderly man I'd admitted to the hospital the day before. He did quite well overnight.
From his bed, he handed me a sheet of paper with the words hemolytic uremic syndrome on it. "What's this?" I asked.
"Well, my granddaughter got onto the internet..."
My heart fell. "And?"
"She said I need to be sure and ask you if I don't have hemolytic uremic syndrome."
I smiled benevolently. "Mr. Stevenson, that's a very good thought but I have a few problems with that diagnosis. First, you're not hemolyzing. Second, you're not uremic. Other than that..."
"Well then what DO I have doctor?"
"Pneumonia and you're going home tomorrow."