Diagnosis using search engines
It may herald a much more sophisticated web resource, argues Martin Gardner See Paper+, p20
Prescribing errors are one of the commonest adverse events in hospitals. A recent editorial in the BMJ suggested that this was the result of inadequate teaching of clinical pharmacology and prescribing at medical school, but prescription error is not limited to junior doctors.1
Thousands of computer systems targeted at medical diagnosis (often described as expert systems) have been developed during the past 50 years. Most have had relatively little impact on day to day clinical practice; for example, because they are not easily accessible at the point of care; have a complex interface; can deal with only a narrow focus (one symptom or clinical problem); are not integrated with clinical information systems; depend on particular software or hardware platforms; or require labour intensive construction and are therefore expensive to maintain and extend.
In a recent study in the BMJ, Tang and Ng assessed the effectiveness of a web search engine