Online medical libraries offer a wealth of information

April 1, 2006

There's a wealth of information available to ophthalmologists and other physicians in medical libraries online?if you know how to tap into them.

There's a wealth of information available to ophthalmologists and other physicians in medical libraries online-if you know how to tap into them.

On your own

For example, you'll find that Johns Hopkins University maintains its own medical library ( http://www.welch.jhu.edu/) that includes a large number of medical journals and books. It's free for Hopkins personnel and is accessible to outsiders via registration; information about access is provided on the Web site.

Moving along, you'll find the Wiley Interscience site, which lists 1,000 journals, many online books, and other sources of information. It, too, requires paid registration. Details are available at http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/.

Stanford University has its own HighWire Press site ( http://www.highwire.stanford. edu/), which calls itself "the largest repository of free, full-text, peer-review content." It has access to 919 journals and boasts of "1,168,653 free, full-text articles" available on request. You can set up your own free account quickly.

Another free source is maintained by the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, which has a seemingly endless amount of information. Simply typing "glaucoma" into the search box for one source, PubMed, produced 35,666 journal article citations. You can search by topic, author, or journal on the Web site http://www.ncbi.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi/. Registration is required, and is easily done.

If you want to explore the paid sites, outfits such as Ovid ( http://www.ovid.com/) and MD Consult ( http://www.mdconsult.com/) will allow you free trials. Go to the Web sites to learn details.

There are online libraries dedicated to ophthalmology. One of them is maintained by eMedicine ( http://www.emedicine.com/OPH/). You can find more by entering "medical libraries ophthalmology" into your search engine.

Check out the MLA

If you want to learn about what your patients might be reading, an interesting site is maintained by the Medical Library Association (MLA) ( http://www.mlanet.org/resources/userguide.html). It offers "the collective wisdom of medical librarians who surf the Web every day to discover quality information in support of clinical and scientific decision making by doctors, scientists, and other health practitioners responsible for the nation's health."

The MLA has a "getting started" section with tips that can be useful for physicians as well as lay personnel. (Sample: "entering the term 'cancer' and 'chemotherapy' linked together is more powerful and precise than trying to read through all the hits found by simply entering the general term 'cancer.' ")