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What is New Medical Terms?
New Medical Terms is the only website specifically dedicated to medical lexicography. It is the home of the 21st century’s first new medical dictionary, the Dictionary of Modern Medicine which, in contrast to the standard text-based medical lexicons, is formatted as a database. This allows ultra-rapid, keyword and boolean searches. The current release, version 5, has over 55,000 entries and an additional 155,000 searchable aliases/synonyms. It is one of the largest medical dictionaries on the internet, and the largest free medical dictionary. In contrast to the other works in this space, the DMMD is actually written and compiled by a physician, not by lexicographers who typically have a BA in English lit and write in the third person. It is available at no cost to its target demographic, medical students and physicians peers, advanced health professionals, biomedical scientists and those in the upper strata of health care administration and public health.
Standard medical definitions are missing
That is correct…for the moment.
Rather than repeat material that one finds in other medical dictionaries,* in 2017, we began releasing material that is part of modern practice. This material has gotten short shrift in other medical lexicons. Our goal is that newmedicalterms.com becomes users’ ‘go to’ place to find important definitions unlikely to appear in other medical dictionaries.
*Dorland’s, Mosby’s, Stedman’s, Taber’s
For the short term, we are filling in huge gaps in terminology that are currently, and likely to remain, missing from traditional medical dictionaries. Some of these voids are becoming an ever-increasing part of daily practice–e.g., the plethora of abbreviations integral to Medspeak, as well as the material (in particular, genes) being taught in medical school which are becoming central to therapeutic considerations. Other gaps in terminology vary in size and importance from “must know” to“nice to know.”
In 2017, we released version 1. It had 14,000 medical aliases and acronyms (A&As) compiled from peer-reviewed journals and mainstream medical websites. Version 1 was our testbed for future releases of ever larger blocks of entries and an increasing number of subdatabases. In January 2019, we released version 5 with over 55,000 terms in 8 different areas of biomedical interest, including Genes and Hereditary syndromes.
Until we can provide users definitions for all of the “important” genes and most of the 30,000+ genes identified by the Human Genome Project, we do users a disservice by allowing ourselves to get distracted and define terminology that users can already find in other medical dictionaries.
We expect to begin incorporating traditional definitions–e.g., from anatomy, cardiology, physiology, pharmacology, surgery, etc in 2021. It is impossible to project how long it will take before that process is complete…perhaps 3 years.
How large is the New Medical Terms operation?
Minuscule; NMT has one content person (JCS, MD) and one webmaster/database manager (KH).
How do you ensure quality of definitions?
Other dictionaries have a large in-house staff of lexicographers and board of physicians and consultants. To counter the inevitable criticism that would be leveled against NMT, a work compiled by one physician, which has hundreds of thousands of entries, references (most with URLs) have been included with many definitions. At last count, the database from which definitions are generated in NMT has over 51,000 (!!!) references, most to respected, intensely curated databases–e.g., Genecards, UniProt and the OMIM. Given that 51K references is at least 2 orders of magnitude more references than the Dorland’s Medical Dictionary, one could argue that the DMMD/NMT is far more authoritative than the Dorland’s.
What makes New Medical Terms unique?
Everything about New Medical Terms (NMT) and the linked Dictionary of Modern Medicine database (DMMD) breaks new ground. To name a few:
(1) The definitions and data in the DMMD reside within an actual database, allowing keyword and boolean searching. The real world translation is that a search for information which takes minutes on the Kindle version of a medical dictionary and is typically unsuccessful, takes milliseconds and never misses, despite having a much larger pool of data.*
*The DMMD dataset is already 50% larger than the Dorland’s
(2) The NMT includes material traditionally ignored by other medical dictionaries, in particular genes and genomics, but also terrorism and torture, alternative healthcare, evidence based practice, clinical trials…all of which is in the pipeline and planned for release to the publicly accessible part of the DMMD within the next few years
(3) NMT has from the beginning recognised that references are required in any work intended for health professionals and scientists. At last count, the DMMD has over 51,000 references compared to the ± 200 references found in the Dorland’s Medical Dictionary.
(4) It is written/compiled by one person/physician/pathologist
(5) The DMMD does not view aliases and synonyms (A&Ss) as valid entries. The database format allows us to cull A&Ss and place them in a separate field. Up to 30% of the entries in the Dorland’s refer the user elsewhere. Even being conservative, if 20% of the Dorland’s entries are in fact, A&Ss, that work’s claimed 124,000 entries (X 0.8) is actually less than 100K. As of today, the DMMD has 190,761 entries, not including 211,045 A&Ss.
(6) No illustrations. I produced about 250 black and white drawings for the first edition of the Dictionary of Modern Medicine. For the second edition, named Current MedTalk and published in 1996 with Simon and Schuster’s medical division, I rendered a number of additional images using computer graphics soft- and hardware. For the past 20 years, I have focused on the material itself and not included images and illustrations. That could change in the future, but there are no current plans to add images to material released from the DMMD.
(7) The material is written at a peer level–i.e., not ‘dumbed down’ to appeal to a wider (read, less sophisticated) audience. As an example, it is assumed that peers won’t need translations of commonly used abbreviations, to wit ADHD, AF, AIDS, ASD, CAD, CFS, CHF, CMV, CNS, CSF, CT, DM, EBV, EKG, ESRD, GI, GU, HBV, HCV, HIV, HPV, IBD, IFN, IL, IM, IV, MI, MRI, MS, NK, RA, RBCs, ROM, RTI, SLE, STD, TB, TMJ, UC, US, UTI, VSD, WBCs
Why is New Medical Terms important?
In 1950, medical knowledge was projected* to double in 50 years; in 2010, in 3.5 years, and in 2020, in just 73 days. With this tsunami of data thrown at us, it’s no longer possible to base our medical education on the leisurely consumption of primary (research and original papers) literature such as Banting and Best’s paper on the discovery of insulin or Watson and Crick’s seminal paper in Nature that proved the most important biomolecule in the universe, DNA, was a double helix.
Physicians now depend on secondary (reviews, texts and Dr Google) literature to keep them up-to-date in in all but their own speciality. Current medical dictionaries should be the ‘go to’ place for succinct secondary information. They aren’t. New Medical Terms’ raison d’être is to re-establish the medical lexicon as the advanced health professionals’ first port-of-call in a rapidly expanding sea of information.
Lofty goal? Yes.
Do-able? We believe so.
Do medical professionals need another reference?
If the currently available medical dictionaries actually served the needs of advanced healthcare professionals by providing succinct definitions of genes, clinical trials, managed care, bariatric medicine, sport medicine, transplantation medicine, sexology, etc, etc, then no, physicians wouldn’t need another reference. But there is a vast void that needs filling with a work that defines the tens of thousands of terms that current medical dictionaries have ignored. It’s impossible to guess at this point how big this reference will be when the growth begins to level off, but I believe the minimum is 250,000 entries (not including the estimated 400,000+ aliases and synonyms)
Why would anyone embark on such a project?
If I’d known in 1984, when I began this project, what I know today, I’d have run screaming from the cubicle with the ancient 8088 chip PC and dot-matrix printer where this began and switched my specialty training from pathology to oncology. The Dictionary of Modern Medicine database (DMMD) and New Medical Terms website, where users can access ever-enlarging portions of the DMMD, has cost me a marriage, well over one hundred thousand dollars in software, hardware, and paid expertise to breath life into this “albatross.”
With each newer and larger release, the DMMD is beginning to approach the original vision. Who knows, it may accomplish the goal of providing a resource that is of use to peers.
I struck the proverbial Faustian bargain; I’m driven to continue with this until I die…I only hope my sisyphean labors will serve a greater good and service a wider public
Who is the target demographic?
The advanced health professional. There are 4 major medical dictionaries in print: Dorland’s, Mosby’s, Stedman’s and Taber’s. Whilst all have highly respected physicians and experts on their editorial boards, each of these works has simplified the definitions to appeal to a broader audience, a nice way of saying, ‘dumbed down.’ The wording, material and details of this work are meant to reflect the education and sophistication of peers.
As physicians, we have, on average, 10+ years of education beyond our university degrees…more than the average support staff we manage, and far more than the lay public. It stands to reason that we should expect a dictionary that serves our needs to provide text bites of useful information beyond “…cholecystitis with relatively mild symptoms persisting over a long period”, which is the definition for chronic cholecytitis found in the 2012 Dorland’s Medical Dictionary.
How many terms do you have?
January of 2019 saw the 5th public release of the DMMD. It has over 55,000 entries/definitions in 8 categories or subdatabases:
Abbreviations and acronyms
The DMMD itself has a total of 190K entries, of which 55K (above) have been published (as of January 2019). Considerable work lies ahead before the remaining 135K entries can be massaged into viable definitions. Version 5 includes ± 200K searchable aliases and synonyms (A&Ss), bringing the total number of definitions and searchables to > 250K. The Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary boasts that it is the largest medical dictionary in print with nearly 124,000 terms (including A&Ss).
How often will the material be updated and expanded?
Version 5 was released in late January (2019), a few weeks behind schedule. We plan on releasing version 6 in March, at which time the database should have ± 58,000 entries. Updates are planned monthly and likely to grow the number of available definitions by 2,000 to 5,000. This means that the DMMD will grow by 10,000 or more entries per year. By comparison, the Dorland’s Medical Dictionary is updated every 5 to 8 years and typically adds 5,000 new terms in that timeframe.
Feel free to send any questions you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org and, if of general interest, we will add them to the FAQs in the future.
Best regards, JC Segen, MD, FCAP
Carle Place, NY
We invite you to download v.5 of the DMMD and experience the future of medical lexicography for yourself. Version 5 can be downloaded directly to your Mac NMTD 2.0v5; for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad), you’ll need to first download Filemaker Go https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/filemaker-go-17/id1274628191?mt=8. For both formats, the user name is User; the password is user (they are case sensitive).
The Windows formatted version is under development. Filemaker does not support Android devices. Once we procure sponsorship, the data will be accessible on all devices.