Doctor Patient Confidentiality Expectations: Patient Googling In Question

The controversial debate, which questions whether a doctor or dentist should legally be allowed to Google their patients, is in question. Is this an act of invasion of privacy or is everything you choose to make public on your social media domain open to anyone, even your primary care physician? Many people do not feel that doctors have the right to go snooping around on the Internet for information regarding their patients, but Maria Baker and Daniel George beg to differ. They feel that doctors should be allowed to Google patient information, but only if the need to Google meets their ten, self-created guidelines.




Maria Baker is a geneticist at the Penn State Cancer Institute and Daniel George is an assistant professor at Penn State University College of Medicine. They have wrote a paper, which was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, stating that it is ethical for doctors to Google their patients, but only if the reasons for doing so will protect them and prevent harm.




Everyone that goes to the doctor is not always honest about their current medical condition, physical and mental health history, substance abuse addiction, and will also be dishonest in answering clinical questions verbally and on medical forms. If your doctor feels that you are evading questions, being untruthful, and hiding very important information that could potentially lead to a misdiagnoses or a delayed diagnoses, then they have the right to Google their patients.


Mistrust Between Doctor & Patient


Most patients would probably become uncomfortable, if they knew their doctor was googling them. This could potentially lead to patient-physician mistrust, which could be very damaging for the relationship and could lead to a breech of confidentiality lawsuit against the physician. Medical physicians, surgeons, and dentists need to evaluate the risks, before they actually Google a patient. If the risks outweigh the need to discover more information about a particular patient, maybe it is better not to patient Google.