MORE THAN half of US doctors use Wackypedia to work out what is wrong with their patients, according to a study published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
While US doctors charge their victims, er patients, huge amounts of cash, their actual tool of choice seems to be the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
According to New Scientist this means that people with made up doctorates and Daily Tech readers with chips on their shoulders and axes to grind are effectively treating people with serious illnesses.
To be fair to Wackypedia, its medical coverage is not too bad. Studies conducted by the medical community show that the online encyclopedia is almost free of factual errors. Generally its pages get better with time.
However there is the problem that some of Wikipedia's volunteer editors sometimes get bees in their bonnets about certain types of treatment and fill up pages with negative information about some types of drugs.
It also has information on only about 40 per cent of drugs questions and often skips information that is too dull for the editors to want to write. For example you should not take St Johns Wort with the HIV drug Prezista even if you are really depressed about your illness, but you won't find that out at Wikipedia.
There are also potential complications and side effects that Wackypedia's editors can't be bothered to mention, but they are just the sorts of things that doctors need to know when they are prescribing drugs.
Article cited: http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/...rely-wikipedia
Original source: http://www.newscientist.com/article/...m-the-web.html