Australian researchers say it's not just patients who try to diagnose their disease online. Doctors do this too in difficult cases. The researchers say Google doesn't replace doctors, but it does help them to get quick access to an ever increasing medical knowledge base that might be impossible to hold in their head.
Dr Tang says the study was driven by personal curiosity after noticing how patients and doctors alike were using Google to diagnose difficult cases.
In one example he had a patient whose father used the search engine to correctly diagnose that his son had the rare circulatory condition -Paget-von Schrötter syndrome.
Dr Tang and Dr Ng selected 26 difficult cases presented in the New England Journal of Medicine, including Cushing's syndrome, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, encephalitis and cirrhosis.
They then plugged the symptoms of each case into the search engine to come up with a diagnosis.
When these diagnoses were compared with the correct published diagnoses, the researchers found that Google got it right 58 per cent of the time.