Written By: Victoria Silman
Everyone is guilty of looking up symptoms on WebMD when they're
feelings a little off. Feel a sharp pain in your lower back? Better look it up! I can tell you for certain I, myself, am a very guilty avid user of such sites. What about researching natural remedies, or being able to contact medical professionals right from your bedroom? It may seem like a very convenient way the ICT revolution has changed the way people acquire information regarding their health, but where do the pros become the cons?
Many ethical issues arise with regards to ICTs in medicine. For
example, the accuracy of information on the internet can be disputed, as information is within the internet can be easily fabricated or posted with little knowledge. "[The] internet is a source of medical information but more information is not necessarily beneficial for moral autonomy." (Collste et al. 3) This idea addresses the issue of a plethora of information that can be regarded as inaccurate. Once again, WebMD is a site notorious for this, as are other easy-to-read slide show type websites that people circulate through their social media accounts. Many times I have come across family and friends posting "articles" which share information about 'Weird Facts About Your Health You Didn't Know About That Could Save Your Life', or other bogus articles.
What about the issues of privacy and anonymity? "Existing
problems of medical ethics ... are exacerbated by the employment of ICT in medicine, e.g. the problem of privacy and anonymity." (Trzesicki 21) The ability to access medical records online may be convenient to patients, but it also presents a very significant issue of privacy. Furthermore, where do the boundaries begin with regards to this information? "Common to most kinds of e-medicine is the transcendence of borders. Neither are Internet-based sources of medical information nor Internet-mediated medical consultations restricted.." (Collste et al. 3) Unfortunately for ICTs in medicine, this issue can prove to be very significant. These issues are only the surface of how the ICT revolution is changing the medical field. Though the information presented here only outlines a couple of the cons, I encourage you to look into the pros that ICTs have to offer with regards to medicine.
Collste, Goranc et al. "ICT In Medicine and Healthcare: Assessing Social, Ethical, and Legal Issues." 3. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
"Table 1: Advantages and Disadvantages of ICTs in Healthcare." Web. 15 Nov. 2015.
Trzesicki, K. "Medical Informatics Ethics and Its Subject." Annales Academiae Medicae Bialostocensis (2005): 21. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.