A new article in the Journal of Surgical Education, “The Internet School of Medicine: Use of Electronic Resources by Medical Trainees and the Reliability of those Resources” (Harvard ID # and password required), examines the accuracy of common online resources. Residents and medical students were surveyed to find which resources they preferred and how confident they were in their preferred resources. Then, researchers developed 254 questions that might be asked on rounds, be on a written exam, or pertain to patient care. The researchers used the top 5 electronic resources, which were Google, Wikipedia, Medscape, UpToDate, and Epocrates, to answer the questions. They found that
UpToDate and Epocrates had the highest percentage of correct answers (47%), and Wikipedia had the lowest (26%). Epocrates also had the highest percentage of wrong answers (30%), whereas Google had the lowest percentage (18%). All the resources had a significant number of questions that they were unable to answer.
However, the researchers did note that their standard of accuracy, print textbooks, is potentially problematic because electronic resources allow for information to be more current. They stated that it is unlikely that that alone accounts for the large discrepancy.
Read more: Egle JP, Smeenge DM, Kassem KM, Mittal VK. The Internet School of Medicine: Use of Electronic Resources by Medical Trainees and the Reliability of those Resources. J Surg Educ. 2014 Dec 5. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25487347. (Harvard ID # and password required).