By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More and more people are seeking health care advice from the Internet. One local doctor has embraced the trend and is working to make it easier and safer.

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Dr. Rajnish Mago, from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, recognizes that many of his patients seek a second opinion… from Google. A Pew survey recently showed 80% of Internet users have sought medical advice online. This often rankles physicians, but Dr. Mago says it’s time to get over that.

“Doctors need to not be paternalistic, but rather open to discussing with their patients what is correct and what is incorrect in the information they have found.”

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Dr. Mago says there’s one problem with patients using a search engine as their substitute physician, “The Internet is full of potentially harmful information, because the Internet is not a monitored source.”

So, Dr. Mago says doctors do their patients a favor by directing them to reliable websites. He even advises using a prescription pad, “The doctor can, instead of the name of the medication, can write what is the information the doctor wants the patient to look up.”

Dr. Mago recommends MedlinePlus.gov as a good starting point for most ailments.

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