Web Search Changes Diagnosis

What’s amazing about this story is not that someone learned an important medical fact from a web search–that happens all the time. Rather, it’s that the doctors listened to their patients and were willing to admit they were wrong. How often does that happen?

Howard and Melissa of Boca Raton, Florida found out first hand that the Internet can be a powerful tool for parents. A few weeks after they brought their premature twins, Andrew and Carly, home from the hospital Andrew had to be admitted to the ER. The doctors told them that the baby had a serious problem, that his hemoglobin levels had dropped from 14 (at birth) to 7. The doctors wanted to do an emergency blood transfusion immediately. Using his cell phone, Howard used Google to search for “hemoglobin” and “premature infant.” The results were surprising. He found a medical journal article which said that it’s normal for preemie twins to have a drop in their hemoglobin levels during the first three months.

Howard gave the link to the doctors, and they spent a few hours researching it. When they returned, they “sheepishly admitted that our son was indeed fine – no treatment was necessary…Google literally saved our newborn son from having to endure an extremely dangerous, and totally unnecessary, blood transfusion.”

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