Since its beginnings in the 1980s the internet has come to shape our everyday lives, but doctors still seem rather afraid of it. This anxiety may be explained by the fact that researchers and regulatory bodies focus less on the way that the internet can be used to enhance clinical work and more on the potential and perceived risks that this technology poses in terms of boundary violations and accidental breaches of confidentiality. Some aspects of the internet's impact on medicine have been better researched than others, for example, whether email communication, social media and teleconferencing psychotherapy could be used to improve the delivery of care. However, few authors have considered the specific issue of searching online for information about patients and much of the guidance published by regulatory organisations eludes this issue. In this article we provide clinical examples where the question ‘should I Google the patient?’ may arise and present questions for future research.