Can You Believe What You Read?

How to identify fake medical news online

It’s happened to all of us—we search online for information about a medical symptom, condition, or treatment, only to find page after page of conflicting information.

How do you know what’s accurate and what’s not?

“Don’t believe everything you hear or read,” says Erin Hunt, RN, HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital nurse. “Know what you’re looking at and where it’s coming from, because if it has any sort of political motivation behind it, it typically is going to sway you one way or another.”

Hunt offers the following tips to ensure you are finding reliable information:

  • Don’t click on sponsored ads, which often promise miracle cures. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Websites ending in .gov or .org are much more likely to provide accurate information. Hospital websites are also a safe bet.
  • The best places for accurate COVID-19 information are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO), and state and local health departments.
  • Ask your doctor.

“Always speak with your physician,” says Hunt. “You want to nail down the facts so that you can make informed decisions about your medical care.”

If you have questions about health information you found on the internet, our providers have answers. To find a provider, visit HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital or HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital.

You may also be interested in “How to Be an Empowered Patient.”