Doctors Google their patients to see their past accomplishments and even past mugshots, according to reports.
One doctor, Haider Javed Warraich, wrote about his propensity to Google patients in a column for the New York Times. From the piece:
Doctors do “Google” their patients. In fact, the vast majority of physicians I know have done so. To my generation, using a search engine like Google comes as naturally as sharing pictures of our children or a recent vacation on a social networking site like Facebook.
U.S. & World
However, Warraich does have a caveat, saying that it's probably not a great way to build trust in a doctor-patient relationship, especially when you see a patient's mugshot or other wrongdoing that may have nothing to do with their condition. Instead, he says the only reason to Google a patient is when it's about a patient's safety, but that may not stop many physicians.
Another doctor, Kate Adams, a UK physician writing in the Guardian, also admits to looking up patients on Google. From the article:
Curiosity often gets the better of me but I feel it helps me build a rapport and a better understanding of the person.
Both doctors say that knowing more about patients helps build empathy and understanding for the patient, but it's only Warraich that suggests that asking your patient questions may yield just as much information.