The Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (www.japmaonline.org) recently published an article describing a study by the podiatry department at the Reading Hospital in Pennsylvania (March/April 2019 – Vol. 109, No. 2) analyzing YouTube videos on diabetic foot care. The authors of “Analysis of YouTube as a Source of Information for Diabetic Foot Care” reviewed videos available as of March 13, 2016.
Citing the fact that YouTube.com is the third most popular website in the United States after Google.com and Facebook.com, the article notes that YouTube videos “serve as an important source of video information, reaching more 18- to 49-year-old Americans than any traditional cable network.” The authors evaluated the quality of these videos as they relate to diabetic foot care to determine if YouTube information is a useful source of patient information.
One of their conclusions was that “patients viewing these videos may be unaware that they are receiving misleading information, as evidenced by the increase in likes and views.” The authors recommend “… that health-care groups posting videos look for a clearly recognizable means of differentiating their video uploads from the rest” and suggest that hospitals and physicians, including podiatrists should post their logo or credentials as a way to improve the credibility of the videos.
Ultimately, the authors concluded that YouTube videos on diabetic foot care may not be the most useful source of information, they can be if properly “curated” or compiled by the professionals in the field. The authors also noted that “podiatrists should alert their patients to possibly misleading information and offer them a ‘curated’ list of videos to view.”
Knowing that patients frequently look for online information on their podiatric condition, it might create duty on the part of the podiatrist to warn of misinformation or provide their patients with a list of recommended videos to watch. I would ask this: Did you know that Mr. Patient was getting information on his diabetic condition from online videos? Did you do or say anything to alert Mr. Patient that the information he obtained may not be accurate? Did you ask Mr. Patient what prompted him to start a form of self-treatment (which he found online) which was contrary to your plan of treatment?