Studies have shown that the majority of medical information on most websites is incorrect. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine shows how unreliable online medical information can be.

As we were driving to dinner to celebrate my birthday, I commented that I wondered what day of the week I was born, many, many years ago. Within a minute, my daughter looked up from her high-tech gadget and informed me that I was born on a Tuesday.


This is an example of the tremendous amount of information available on the Internet and how quickly one can retrieve such data.


In the past, if I was doing a research project, I would have to journey to a medical library that was 40 minutes away. I have not entered a medical library for about eight years.


In the privacy and convenience of my home, I can look up more medical information on my computer in a shorter period of time than I ever did at the library.


Such medical data are also available to anyone with a computer. It's not uncommon for patients to come to their doctors with reams of paper containing information regarding their diagnosis. However, with the good also comes the bad.


Studies have shown that the majority of medical information on most websites is incorrect. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine shows how unreliable online medical information can be.


The article discussed the accuracy of the diagnoses of videos on YouTube that demonstrated specific movement disorders. Movement disorders are not uncommon and include such conditions as Parkinson's disease, tremors, dystonia, chorea and tics.


Seven neurologists who are specialists in movement disorders were asked to view the 29 YouTube videos and determine if the diagnosis on the video was correct.


It was the neurologists' impressions that only 34 percent of the people on the videos who were said to have a physical cause of their movement disorder, such as Parkinson's disease or chorea, actually had such disorders.


Therefore, the diagnosis of the remaining 66 percent of individuals was wrong. Those individuals who were depicted as having a certain type of physical condition causing their movement disorder actually had a psychogenic movement disorder associated with psychological factors.


Results of this study reaffirm the admonition that, although there is a great deal of medical information available on the Internet, much of it is unreliable.


Now I wonder if I was really born on a Tuesday.


Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children in Massachusetts, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.