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Shocker: Doctors say you shouldn’t rely on Wikipedia to diagnose your ailments

Published May 28th, 2014 11:00PM EDT
Is Wikipedia Reliable For Medical Information

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It sounds like common sense but apparently some people need to be told that they shouldn’t rely on Wikipedia for accurate medical information. BBC News reports that new research published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association estimates that around 90% of all medical-related entries on Wikipedia contain factual errors, which is particularly disturbing because “up to 70% of physicians and medical students use the tool.”

It isn’t surprising that Wikipedia’s medical entries aren’t exactly up to the quality of peer-reviewed medical journals — it’s an open encyclopedia on the Internet that anyone can edit, which means it takes constant vigilance from medical experts to make sure that medical entries retain their accuracy. And because most medical experts are typically busy, you know, helping people recover from illnesses and injuries, they probably don’t have the time to monitor medical Wikipedia entries to guard them from vandalism or inaccurate information.

“While Wikipedia is a convenient tool for conducting research, from a public health standpoint patients should not use it as a primary resource because those articles do not go through the same peer-review process as medical journals,” said study author Dr. Robert Hasty, who recommended that anyone who had questions about a particular health problem they have should just break down and go to their physician instead of trying to play Internet doctor all by themselves.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.