Sep 24

P Younger: “Beyond Wikipedia: how good a reference source are medical wikis?”

(Paula Younger is Electronic Resources Librarian, Exeter Health Library, Exeter, UK.)

Abstract:
Purpose – – The purpose of this paper is to examine the case for using subject (medical) wikis as a reference tool.Design/methodology/approach – The paper summarises content of ganfyd and WikiMD, comparing their ethos and approach to information. It describes some other medical and health wikis in brief.Findings – As their audience is somewhat more specialised, medical wikis, currently in their infancy, cover topics in more depth than Wikipedia but coverage remains patchy. They may be of particular use for those without access to expensive resources such as UpToDate requiring a short literature review or overview of a topic. Wikis at present are best used as a signpost to other resources with tighter editorial control.Research limitations/implications – The assessment of the subject wikis is brief and the analysis of wikis as a reference tool is largely drawn from general literature, not medical.Practical implications – This assessment provides exposure of subject wikis as a potential reference tool.Originality/value – The paper highlights the existence of subject wikis as a potential more in-depth tool than Wikipedia.

Links:
[Emerald]
[Ingenta]

Sep 20

Looking for mobile-friendly, authoritative texts and databases? There’s a librarian for that.

http://www.imedicalapps.com/2010/08/mobile-friendly-librarian-suggested-apps/
By: Susan M. Foster-Harper, MLS, AHIP

Excerpt:

As a medical librarian, I like seeing what’s coming at me. On one side, books and biomedical literature are quickly transitioning to an electronic format. Vendors and publishers are presenting new products to improve access.

On the other, iTunes and mobile devices are rapidly becoming ubiquitous. Many of the apps in the Medical category of the Apps Store have proven extremely useful to medical students and healthcare professionals in a clinical environment, i.e., Epocrates, Medscape, Lexi-Comp, iTranslate among others. To students and residents, the speed and immediacy of the information can be exhilarating by the end of a busy day.

Sep 18

Searching PubMed on a Mobile Device

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a919474140

Abstract:

An increasing number of students and faculty come to campus with an iPhone or iPod touch. Aside from recreational use, these devices can be used to search for medical literature, but picking the right applications for searching can be difficult. A comparison test was created to find the best application for searching PubMed from an iPhone or iPod touch. The products tested were PubSearch, PubMed on Tap, and PubMed for Handhelds. Although equally accurate, PubMed on Tap was the superior product due to its simple method for limiting by date and its readily accessible e-mail feature.

Yup. That’s pretty much what I said in the MLA Webcast.

Sep 17

Android for Healthcare

http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/News/Dell-Streak-and-Sprint-Evo-4G-with-Calgary-ResolutionMD/

This fall, hospitals and physicians will be able to order Dell’s five-inch Dell Streak Android 2.1-based mini-tablet as an option with Dell’s healthcare solutions, says the company. The device will be loaded with client apps designed to interact with Dell’s EMR and MCC (mobile clinical computing) enterprise software, providing healthcare professionals with digitized patient information, says the company.

While Dell is targeting its Streak tablet at EMR applications, Sprint is aiming its HTC-manufactured Evo 4G Android smartphone more specifically at mobile medical imaging in a partnership with Calgary Scientific. An Android version of the latter’s HIPPA-compliant ResolutionMD Mobile software, said to be “powered by PureWeb,” will be offered on the Evo 4G.

Sprint, meanwhile, has developed a secure platform for ResolutionMD and other medical imaging applications that spans its wireline IP network, as well as 3G and 4G wireless networks, says the carrier.

More:
http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/Dell-Android-Streak-Tablet-to-Get-Healthcare-Industry-Integration-292890/

Sep 16

Ashley Julian at Trent and Company

[Ashley responded! see update here]

Maybe it isn’t fair to pick on Cision quite so much. After all, there are lots of other spammers who don’t even respond to my polite requests asking to be removed from their distribution lists.

One of my least favorite of these is Ashley Julian at Trent and Company.

ashley@trentandcompany.com
nancy@trentandcompany.com

(Nancy is the President of this firm and can also be reached at 212-966-0024. Anyone have an auto-dialer I can borrow?)

If you’d like to make me smile, please send these two some email? Thanks!

Sep 16

Nice Review of Our Book!

http://radiology.rsna.org/content/256/1/63.extract

Herein lays the major accomplishment of this fine easy-to-use reference: allowing the reader to more easily and efficiently navigate through some of today’s most useful Internet tools. The book details ways to maximize the efficiency of Internet search engines and tools that allow the busy health care provider to find, manage, and organize the information that they need in a timely fashion. To this end, the authors have done a spectacular job.

This well-planned concise reference book is well organized, with an ample table of contents. The individual chapters contain numerous boxes that contain short key highlights. An adequate number of schematics, most referencing variations of an advanced Google search, make correlation between the text and actual Internet usage more user friendly. While the title implies that this fine book might be most suited for physicians, Internet Cool Tools for Physicians is equally applicable to numerous other groups including, but not limited to, information technology and picture archiving and communication system personnel, nurses, medical researchers, basic scientists, and medical students, as well as undergraduates who are interested in health care professions. In fact, the fi rst seven chapters are so broad in context that any modern-day user of the Internet would most certainly benefit from this book.

Thanks, Dr. Stoffey!

[Book available here]

Sep 16

Dear Cision…

To the folks at Cision-

I receive a HUGE amount of unsolicited email (aka SPAM, UBE or UCE) in which I have no interest. This SPAM is problematic for me because I am a busy person with many things to do. Wading through this dreck to get to information I actually want takes up far too much of my valuable time.

An impressive proportion of this SPAM comes from your clients with a link to your site at which I can “opt out” of receiving future emails from that client.

Here’s the automated response your clients will receive when I get email from them through your services:


It is bad enough to receive unsolicited bulk email, but getting it from a Cision client is especially unpleasant.

Yours is only one of far too many organizations who send me emails like this. In order to “opt out” (which is an odd term because I never “opted in”) of emails from EACH of Cision’s clients, I have to click on a link in the email. This wouldn’t be so awful if:

1. …I had “opted in”
2. …Cision allowed me to “opt out” of emails from ALL their clients at once. They don’t. I have to “opt out” of email from each one of their clients.
3. …Cision offered contact information at their site where I could directly express these concerns to them.

Since none of these things is true, I urge you to take up this issue with Cision. I also urge you to either stop using bulk email entirely or at least use it much more selectively. If you had ever taken 2 minutes to look at my blog, you’d see that your message is a poor fit for my little site.

Sincerely,

-David L. Rothman
http://davidrothman.net

This email is an automated response. I have not seen your email, nor will I ever see any email sent to me by a Cision system.

Since you offer no universal “opt-out” nor information on how to reach you and request to be removed from your database, I’m hoping this post might reach you somehow. If it doesn’t, you’re not very good at what you claim to do.

While you operate as a supposedly reputable company providing a valuable marketing service, I think you no better than the spammers who send me unsolicited email offering products that claim to alter the size or function of sexual organs.

Please, be better than them and let people like me choose to stop being harassed by people like you.

Most sincerely,

-David Rothman

[UPDATE]

Well, it worked. Received this email:


from Libby vanBuskirk to David Rothman
date Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 4:32 PM
subject Removal from Cision
mailed-by cision.com
4:32 PM (30 minutes ago)

Hello Mr. Rothman,

I work for Cision, the media research company based in Chicago. In response to your blog post, I just wanted to let you know that we have removed your name and contact information from our database. I sincerely apologize for the problems this listing has caused you.

Thank you,
____________________________________________
Libby vanBuskirk
Supervisor, Internet Media

CISION US, INC.
332 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60604
Direct: 312-873-6644
Main: 1-866-639-5087

Email: Libby.vanBuskirk@cision.com

So if you get an absurd number of these emails, Libby may be the person to contact.

Now they need to make it possible for recipients to remove themselves without having to resort to this sort of public shaming.

[/UPDATE]

May 04

“Professional Librarian?”

I’m reading, re-reading, and loving this post from Ryan Deschamps:

Ten Reasons Why ‘Professional Librarian’ is an Oxymoron

Deschamps’ 10 Reasons are:
1. Librarians Have No Monopoly on the Activities They Claim
2. There are No Consequences For Failing to Adhere to Ethical Practices
3. Librarianship is Too Generalized to Claim Any Expertise
4. ’Librarian’ Assumes a Place of Work, Rather than the Work Itself
5. Peer Review in Librarianship Does Not Work Because There is No Competitive Process to Go With It
6. Values Are Not Enough
7. The Primary Motivation for Professionalization is the Monopoly of Labor
8. Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work
9. Competing Professions Are Offering Different Paradigms to Achieve the Same Goals
10. Nobody Can Name a ‘Great’ Librarian

Go read the whole thing. Even if you don’t agree with him, you’re still likely to find it meaty food for thought.

I strongly suspect Deschamps’ post is in response to this piece by Rory Litwin:

The Library Paraprofessional Movement and the Deprofessionalization of Librarianship

It will probably come as no surprise that I don’t care for Litwin’s piece.

A little fisking follows to supplement the things I like about Deschamps’ post.

Litwin writes:

Most librarians support the requirement of the master’s degree for professional‐level work, but many find the issue difficult to discuss when it is restated in terms of fairness toward working-class library workers, who are pursuing their rights.

Seeing “working-class library workers” literally made me snort aloud. Class has no meaningful or useful place in a discussion about where we are and where we need to go, especially when many degreed librarians make far less than many “working-class” people in many lines of work. I dearly wish that I could say my libraryfolk friends with multiple masters degrees and years of experience had as much income as my plumber, but they don’t. I also distrust anyone (and I mean *anyone*) who uses the term “working class.”

While it is difficult to say exactly what will be required of students who go through this certification program, one can assume that the academic standards of graduate education will not apply…

When the standards are as hugely varying as they are in library schools, they aren’t really “standards” at all. Like most, I know some paraprofessionals with greater knowledge and skills than some degreed librarians. Let’s stop pretending that the degree necessarily says something about the skills and knowledge of the person holding it…because it doesn’t. (See Deschamps’ #8.)

Litwin pretty much admits this:

There can be no denying that many paraprofessionals are more talented, more experienced, and even better educated than many MLS‐holding librarians. There are also libraries that fill their professional positions with non‐MLS holding librarians who, after years of working closely with their communities, can serve as positive examples for the profession in many respects. This is all true.

If you put aside Litwin’s condescending tone ([sarcasm]“I CAN, Rory?! In MANY respects?! Wow, thanks!”[/sarcasm]), we seem to agree.

The problem with framing the question in these terms, however, is that it overlooks the value of the professional status of librarians itself, both for the institutions in which they work and for the world of libraries as a whole.

Think about this for a minute: Litwin is comparing “library professionals” with “library paraprofessionals” but DOESN’T think that comparing skill-sets or experience isn’t a good way to frame the comparison. I call shenannigansWhich is a nicer term for the subject of this book.

After telling us that we’re overlooking “the value of the professional status,” Litwin gives several paragraphs on sociological theory and completely fails to support his assertion.

A profession that is dedicated to sharing knowledge is unlikely to create effective barriers to its knowledge base, a factor undercutting the profession’s defense of its degree of autonomy.

Two things here: The first is that Litwin is saying the failure of librarians to create effective barriers to knowledge is a bad thing. The second is that I reject his assertion that there is a significant difference in the level of autononomy of an employee in a library depending on whether he/she is classified as a professional or a paraprofessional (or, as Litwin writes elsewhere in his piece, salaried or paid an hourly wage). In my experience, the autonomy of an individual employee is largely based on the management philosophies of those they report to and the credibility the employee has earned. Perhaps this is different in academic libraries.

A librarian in technical services, according to Gillham, is a manager, meaning that the department is left without an autonomous professional presence and the attributes that accompany it (code of professional ethics, graduate‐level education, intrinsic reward of service, etc.).

So…now it seems that one cannot ascribe to a code of ethics or experience intrisic reward of service without an MLIS? I’m calling shenannigans again.

Litwin’s article isn’t *all* bad. If you remove the unsupported (or just poorly-supported) assertions about libraries, it is an interesting review of sociological literature on “deprofessionalism.” *With* the library stuff, it is pseudointellectual gobbledygook that provides no useful insight or guidance. (See Deschamps’ reason #5.)

By contrast, Deschamps’ piece is clear, succinct, and lays out the reality of our circumstances in a way that cuts through all the shennanigans.

Since I’m giving Litwin such a hard time, though, I’ll try to find some nits to pick about Deschamps’ post.

[Insert 30 minute pause here]

Deschamps’ #5 is “Peer Review in Librarianship Does Not Work Because There is No Competitive Process to Go With It”

I disagree that so much of library literature is mediocre because of the collaborative habits of libraryfolk. Rather, I think it is largely because of Reason #8, “Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work.” The degree is frequently not academically demanding, so it doesn’t produce a lot of academics.

Deschamps’ phrasing of his Reason #7 (“The Primary Motivation for Professionalization is the Monopoly of Labor”) could, I think, be improved. I might rephrase it:

“The Primary Motivation for the Whining about ‘Deprofessionalization’ is the Fear of Losing Work or Having Needlessly Invested a lot of Effort, Time, Money, and Psychic Energy becoming a ‘Professional’ Librarian.”

But these are nitpicks.

Thoughts?

Apr 28

Listen to Punk. LibPunk.

So I listened to the first LibPunk podcast and can honestly say I’ve never so enjoyed listening to libaryfolk talk about librarianating.

You can download the mp3 or listen in the embedded player below:

Sarah and Kendra have a site here: http://libpunk.info/

Here’s the Podcast feed.

Want to join in? Do!

Apr 26

Questions from Readers: Please Help?

Got a couple questions from readers recently that I’m not sure how to answer- so I’m hoping that some of you (especially those of you in academic health sciences libraries) might. Please email me or leave a comment here if you can help with either of these?

Question 1: (Cited References)
It is rare that I need this sort of information, so I’m not really sure how to answer this question.

If i had had access to the “cited by” function of scopus when i was doing my undergrad degree, it certainly would have saved me some freaking time. i know that pubmed has instituted this feature in the sidebar for papers in biomed central, but im freaking impatient, and it just seems wrong that that kind of information is locked up behind a paywall. how do we get this going on a cloud or whatever the newfangled web 3.4 alpha architecture or whatever is? is metadata like this copyrighted?

My understanding is that the ‘cited by’ information available in SCOPUS is *created* by SCOPUS…and that this is part of SCOPUS’ value. Some journals offer ‘cited by’ information at no costs on their sites. ISI Web of Science is another good source for this info, EBSCO lets you search for cited references, and Google Scholar catches some…but that none of these is perfect. Do y’all have any favorite tools/techniques/practices for finding cited references in biomedical literature?

Question 2:
Please note: I’ve changed some of the wording in this question to conceal the writer’s identity and to clarify because the writer is not a native speaker of English. This question is a three-parter that, if Eugene Barsky was still a physiotherapy librarian, I’d forward to him for his thoughts. Offhand, I don’t believe I know any other geeky librarians who specialize in this.

I’m working on a thesis in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation that analyzes the sources and quality of information for PM&R specialists.

1. How best does one measure (quantify) the category of publications (ISI of knowledge, impact factor, etc) in the speciality
2. What databases exist that serve this speciality?
3. What are the best “non conventional” sources or resources of knowledge (internet, blogs, social communities, etc.)?

Any ideas? Again, please email me or leave a comment here with any thoughts! Thanks in advance!

Mar 23

We Live in the Future

Sure, I still want my jetpack and hovercraft, but we DO live in the future. In a talk I gave recently, I illustrated this position with few small examples of how far we’ve come.

When I was born, my father (an IBM programmer) used some cutting-edge computer technology to make my birth announcements. See images below.

keypunch

MFCUI love that acronym, “MFCU.” Sounds like something out of a 70s blaxploitation film.

How did he use these? He made birth announcements on 96-column punch cards in which the punches spelled out the word “BOY.”

announcement

In 1972, here’s what the cutting-edge of MEDLINE looked like to most users:

medline1972

According the NLM’s Janet Zipser, MEDLINE was the first remote access, real-time database in existence. By the end of 1972 about 150 libraries had access to MEDLINE® all at medical schools and research facilities. The rate was $6/hour, a 4-fold reduction over direct dial. The highest speed available was 30 characters/second. Most people had 10 characters/second Texas Instrument Silent 700s.

Please understand how amazingly fast people thought 30 characters/second was. Please also understand how that compares to today’s speeds:

downloadspeed

And now PubMed is available to everyone with an internet connection…for free. Anna Kushnir-type gripes aside, this is amazing.

I looked at what storage memory cost circa 1979:
storage1979

Compare that to the flash drive I keep in my pocket at most times:
flashdrive

The IBM 3340 Direct Access Storage Facility was introduced in March 1973 …Two, three or four 3340 drives could be attached to the IBM System/370 Model 115 processor — which had been announced concurrently with the 3340 — providing a storage capacity of up to 280 million bytes.

ibm3340

In order to match the storage capacity of my flash drive, this is how many IBM 3340s you’d need:
3340vsflash

In order to match the storage capacity of the laptop I was using at the time, this is how many IBM 3340s you’d need:
3340vslaptop

xkcd put it nicely:
xkcd

iTunes, as far as I can tell, has over 11 Million tracks.

But what brought this all to mind was something I stumbled across via PopURLs the other day:

http://i.imgur.com/y2Rurl.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/y2Rurl.jpg

We live in the future.

[EDIT]

Via Joe (http://friendfeed.com/jokrausdu), here’s what 200 MB looked like in 1970:

200 MBs in 1970

200 MBs in 1970

[/EDIT]

Mar 20

Unsolicited Answers to Rhetorical Questions

From something I saw in Facebook recently:

facebook3rdpartypubmedmedline

Q: Will NextBio do away with PubMed?
A: Absolutely not. In order to even have a chance at making PubMed irrelevant, a 3rd-party tool would have to be free. I believe I have played with the vast majority of 3rd-party PubMed/MEDLINE tools available (see this post category for details).

Q: …will Pubget do away with PubMed?
A: In some libraries for some users, PubGet will be a the preferred option. Will it make PubMed irrelevant? Good lord, no.

K adds:

Suspect they use PubMed to get their lit content, esp since they say they include all the full text from PubMed Central.

K is absolutely right. Both PubGet and NextBio get their data through NCBI API tools.

Now, if GoPubMed (free) did LinkOut and/or made PDF retrieval as easy as PubGet (free) does and marketed it well…that could threaten to make PubMed irrelevant.

However, PubMed makes the index of the world’s medical literature available to millions and it used worldwide as an essential healthcare tool. Ask yourself: Do you want to trust a private corporation to take good and ethical care of such an important public good? I don’t. I’d rather trust the NLM.

Mar 19

MEDLINE Trends, MEDSUM, Compare PubMed (3rd-Party PubMed/MEDLINE Tool)

Alexandru Dan Corlan made this nifty tool, MEDLINE Trend.

medlinetrend

From the site:

Examples of usage

  • To find out just how many papers have been indexed by PubMed every year, enter an empty query (simply press ‘Build Trend’);
  • To find the history of a subject, enter a few keywords describing the subject. For example, clopidogrel will tell you that discussion about this drug first appeared in 1987, was ocasional (under one paper a month) by 1996 and really took off in after 2000;
  • To make statistics of the languages of papers as indexed by PubMed and how they evolved in time enter something like fre[la] and you will see their number is geting reduced in time, despite the increase in the general number of papers, so the prevalence of papers in french in the database falls from about 10%, forty years ago, to less than 2% in 2004;
  • To see how many papers have been published in journals published in a given country year by year enter something like france[pl] and one can see that the number of biomedical papers published in France, indexed in Medline, is quite constant over the years, despite the previous statistics;
  • queries can be combined, for example:
    eng[la] france[pl]
    and you will see that a progressive number of papers published in france, but in english, are indexed by PubMed every year;
  • trying pitie-salpetriere[ad] will show you that, while the number of papers published from this famous hospital is increasing yearly, the fraction of these papers from all papers in PubMed in the respective year is relatively constant.

Trend analysis for “ulcerative colitis”
medlinetrendUC

[Via @laikas and @radagabriel]

MEDSUM
[via Mike G.]

http://www.medsum.info/

Here’s a graph of papers by year for the query “ulcerative colitis”
medsumUC
(Click image for full-size)

Compare-Stuff.com PubMed
(Previously mentioned here)
I just tried this again and I don’t think it works properly any longer. :(

I suspect I’m forgetting another tool or two that will do this. If you know what they are, let me know?

Feb 21

New(est) Media Will Ruin Society/Children/Intelligence

The most recent episode of On the MediaIf you like, you can listen to the segment from On The Media here alerted me to this piece by Dr. Vaughan Bell in Slate.I can hear someone out there saying: “Hah! Rothman was alerted to a piece in an online-only magazine by an old media life FM radio!” And he/she is right…except that I was listening to the podcast of On the Media on my Android phone. I listen to the radio in the car, but nowhere else.

Bell writes:

Worries about information overload are as old as information itself, with each generation reimagining the dangerous impacts of technology on mind and brain. From a historical perspective, what strikes home is not the evolution of these social concerns, but their similarity from one century to the next, to the point where they arrive anew with little having changed except the label.

This is very entertaining stuff. Bell links to this article from the Journal of the History of Ideas by Ann Clair:If you can send me a full-text copy of this Clair article, by the way, I’d be most grateful. Got it, thanks!

This article surveys some of the ways in which early modern scholars responded to what they perceived as an overabundance of books. In addition to owning more books and applying selective judgment as well as renewed diligence to their reading and note-taking, scholars devised shortcuts, sometimes based on medieval antecedents. These shortcuts included the use of the alphabetical index, whether printed or handmade, to read a book in parts, and the use of reference books, amanuenses, abbreviations, or the cutting and pasting from printed or manuscript sources to save time and effort in note-taking.

Other examples include Socrates warnings on the danger of writing and fantasy tales, Malesherbes complaining that newspapers “socially isolated readers,” and an 1883 article which argued that schools “exhaust the children’s brains and nervous systems with complex and multiple studies, and ruin their bodies by protracted imprisonment.”

Go read Bell’s whole article.

Loved this quote from Douglas Adams that Bell mentions:

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

Feb 21

How to: Add a Free Medical Dictionary to Word 2003/2007

Got an email from a friend the other day:

“I wonder if you have found a free add-on for Word 2003 that includes medical terms in the spell check feature and is secure enough for me to recommend to my users at the hospital?”

This is such a great question and something that has come up at my place of work previously. Out of the box, Microsoft Office Word doesn’t recognize a whole lot of the specialized medical vocabulary that people at our hospital use every day. The result of this is that Word frequently fails to recognize clinical terms and underlines them in red, essentially making them false positives for spelling errors.

Only one employee in my department has Stedman’s medical dictionary installed in her copy of Word 2003 because paying a license for each copy used in an entire hospital would add up to an unmanageable sum quite quickly.

Among the books made available to all employees through our hospital’s intranet is a medical dictionary- and that’s okay for the kinds of people who don’t mind stopping what they’re doing to look up a word, but it would be so much faster and easier for Word to be able to spell-check and correct spelling issues with medical terms.

So I promised the friend I’d think it over and come up with some recommendations.

In MS Word, a “dictionary” is just a list of words.

That’s all. Nothing on pronunciation, etymology, or definition.

A quick search reveals that these “dictionaries” (word lists) are stored as .dic files.

Microsoft even tells you how to MAKE a custom dictionary.

So, what we really need is a list of words to turn into a custom dictionary.

OpenMedSpel is pretty awesome.
Free, open source, and released under a GPL license, OpenMedSpel includes nearly 50,000 medical terms. This is all looks great, but while they have a plug-in for OpenOffice, there doesn’t seem to be one for MS Word.

No problem, though. I took apart a .dic file, and it is pretty much a .txt file with a word on each line, renamed with a “.dic” file extension. This means we can just download the .txt version (in the .zip fail available here) and rename it from OpenMedSpel 100.txt to OpenMedSpel 100.dic and save it to our computer.If you want to take a shortcut, you can download my .dic file here (right-click, Save As), but please note I don’t plan on keeping it updated as OpenSpelMed makes changes- so if you’re reading this more than a year after it was posted, I’d go get a fresh copy of the .txt file from OpenMedSpel. Firefox users: Firefox’s native spell-checking isn’t bad at all, but OpenMedSpel has a free Firefox plug-in you’ll probably want to check out.

To add this .dic file to Word (2003 or 2007), we just follow these instructions from Microsoft:

  1. Start Word.
  2. In Microsoft Office Word 2003 and in earlier versions of Word, click Options on the Tools menu.

    In Microsoft Office Word 2007, click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word Options.

  3. In Word 2003 and in earlier versions of Word, click Custom Dictionaries on the Spelling & Grammar tab.

    In Word 2007, click Proofing, and then click Custom Dictionaries under When correcting spelling in Microsoft Office programs.

  4. Click New to create a new custom dictionary.
  5. In the File name box, type a name for the
    new custom dictionary, and then click Save.

    The custom dictionary is added to the Dictionary list.

  6. In the Custom Dictionaries dialog box, click OK, and then click OK in the Options dialog box.

That’s it. You have medical term spell-checking in Word 2003 or Word 2007.

PLEASE NOTE: I would not hesitate to recommend this solution to my hospital’s CIO and could demonstrate to him why there is absolutely no security risk in adding this .dic file- but I wouldn’t go around setting it up on other employees’ computers without his go-ahead.

Want to go with a bigger word list?

The MTHerald blog has built on the OpenMedSpel list to one that contains almost 100,000 terms. I downloaded and checked it out and will recommend it as a harmless, malware-free .dic file- but as with any file I don’t host myself, I can’t promise that’ll be true tomorrow.

There are a number of other sources for lists of medical terms or abbreviations you can find online and add to your .dic file as suits you.

Know of any other especially good sources? Please advise in the comments.