Using ChatGPT for Medical Advice: Is it Reliable?
The story of a mother who found answers to her child’s mysterious medical illness using OpenAI’s ChatGPT gained attention recently. After years of doctor visits and tests, she entered her child’s symptoms into ChatGPT and received a probable diagnosis of tethered cord syndrome, which her doctors had missed. This incident highlights the increasing popularity of using ChatGPT for medical advice, especially for parents who may have experienced medical gaslighting or dismissals from healthcare professionals.
It’s not uncommon for parents to turn to Google for medical advice, but is ChatGPT a better alternative? According to Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician and author, ChatGPT can provide parents with ideas to discuss with their physicians, especially in complex cases. However, relying solely on AI tools like ChatGPT instead of seeking professional medical help can be problematic.
The Limitations of ChatGPT for Medical Advice
While ChatGPT is a powerful tool, it lacks the human touch that is essential in medical practice. According to Dr. Flora Sinha, a board-certified internist, AI cannot replace the experience, medical knowledge, pattern recognition, and intuition that human providers possess. It can’t consider all factors or conduct physical examinations, review medical records, or ask clarifying questions.
Additionally, one of the concerns with using ChatGPT for medical advice is the lack of vetting for online results. ChatGPT analyzes and generates responses based on information scraped from various websites, including both reputable and unvetted sources. This means that the accuracy and reliability of the information provided by ChatGPT can be questionable.
Using ChatGPT as a Resource with Proper Medical Care
While there are limitations to relying solely on ChatGPT, it can be a valuable resource when used appropriately. Dr. Sinha suggests using it as a guide for gathering information before a medical visit. It can provide educational information and answers to basic medical questions. However, it should never replace consulting a healthcare professional.
Dr. Karp also emphasizes that ChatGPT should be seen as a tool in a parent’s toolbox, similar to a medical encyclopedia or resource. While it can offer insights and suggestions, it should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
In conclusion, while ChatGPT may offer some insights and suggestions for medical conditions, it is essential to remember that it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It can be used as a resource, but it should always be complemented with proper medical care. Relying solely on AI tools for medical diagnosis can lead to unnecessary anxiety, potential delays in seeking professional care, and the possibility of false or unvetted information. It’s crucial to consult healthcare professionals for accurate diagnosis and treatment plans.