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Using the Internet in Healthcare. Tyrrell S. (Pp 168, paperback; £17.95.) Radcliffe Medical Press, 1999. ISBN 1 85775 366 6MedLine: a Guide to Effective Searching. Katcher BS. (Pp 148, paperback; $29.) Ashbury Press. ISBN 01 96734 450 6
Good, I thought, as these books dropped through the letterbox.
The day before I'd been party to a family receiving an antenatal diagnosis of gastroschisis, and the father had commented on “looking it up on the Internet”. I wanted to learn more about the condition myself, and reckoned I'd follow the man's example.
Using the Internet in Healthcare sounded an ideal title; disappointingly it wasn't. It's a book about the basics of the Internet, which isn't bad, but is presented better in other books (for example, Internet for dummies).
It's “medical” legitimacy comes from a good summary of NHSnet and a crumb of information about healthcare searches on the Web. (Embarrassingly, it was MedLine: a guide to effective searching that contained the nicest www resources.)
MedLine: a guide to effective searching was also a let down. It's beautifully written, starts with a lovely summary of the history of MedLine, but annoys with drawn out explanations of Boolean logic and historical access systems. In explaining PubMed, it doesn't even mention the excellent “Clinical queries” search page (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/ clinical.html), based on the work of Brian Haynes and colleagues.
For clinicians, there are better summaries of framing questions and effective database searching in Sackett's book.1 For researchers, there are better databases for citation searching than MedLine.
My own searches found a wonderful paediatric patient information site (http://www.birthdefects.org/MAIN.HTM), a site telling the story of a young lad with gastroschisis (http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Flats/1558/), and an excellent study of outcome (using the PubMed/Haynes filters). I wonder how the father of our latest presurgical patient fared...