One of the most important challenges that is impacting doctors is the “infodemic” of information. Before the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we made therapeutic decisions based on science that was well studied, meaning, there are “randomized controlled trials” (RCTs), which give the best evidence for treatment.
But since COVID-19 is a new disease, there are no RCTs. We rely on the best available evidence, which is the experience of those who have had success in managing and controlling the disease. The dilemma is that we are making our therapeutic decisions based only on such available evidence.
To overcome this, with the help of like-minded friends, we evaluate the information using the principles of evidence-based medicine before we apply the information to the management to our patients.
We doctors help each other in sifting through the tons of information, and sharing this information with other doctors. In these trying times, constant communication with other doctors helps ease the burden.
Verify source of info
Let’s be prudent in forwarding messages from unknown sources. Before we forward each message, read and know the source, and verify the source of the information if possible. Sometimes good intentions pave the road to more problems. There are people out there who would take advantage of this stressful situation.
Don’t take the passed-on message hook, line and sinker. Practice discernment. An erroneous message that is forwarded can be more harmful. In our family chat group, we do our best to correct such misinformation.
I get my info from curated and evaluated sites, like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EMcrit.org, FOAMed (Free Open Access Meducation) and #covid2019FOAM on Twitter.
We want the public to remain vigilant, as doctors are slowly gaining more experience and better information on how to properly manage COVID-19. We are slowly winning the battle.
In these stressful and trying times, it is best that you have friends who give not only technical but also emotional support. Some people say that we front-liners are fearless; it’s actually the opposite. We are also afraid, otherwise why would we be wearing uncomfortable PPE (personal protective equipment)?
Lastly, believing that there is a God who is in control provides peace and hope that we can win this battle against COVID-19.
Pagcatipunan is an internal medicine-pulmonary medicine specialist and clinical epidemiologist at Adventist Medical Center Manila. He is also the medical director of Unilab Consumer Health Division.