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Introduction 2018-05-22T06:17:12+00:00

Introduction: New Medical Terms website explained

Congratulations, you’ve landed on the New Medical Terms (NMT) website, which is the front end of The Dictionary of Modern Medicine database (DMMD), an entirely new and rapidly-expanding reference work compiled and written by a physician for other physicians, medical students and advanced health professionals. The NMT website has over 4,500 biomedical definitions from a broad range of material that directly or indirectly impacts on the science and art of medical practice in the 21st century (See New Medical Terms categories). The terms on the NMT website are meant to whet the appetite of the student, at all levels of sophistication, from pre-med to emeritus, recognizing that education and learning is a life-long journey.

The DMMD is remarkable because it is:

BIGGER The DMMD defines substantially more terms than the closest competitor: The Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, the 32nd edition of which has 124,000 terms. As of today, the DMMD has 187,499 entries (the user now has free access to 38,000 of those definitions). However, unlike the Dorland’s, the DMMD does not, repeat, DOES NOT count aliases and synonyms as proper entries. Whereas the Dorland’s counts syndactylia, syndactylism and syndactyly as three separate entries, the DMMD counts them as one definition with two aliases. At last count, the DMMD has over 171,000 aliases. As we do the math (187,000 + 171,000 = 358,000), the DMMD over two times more entries than the Dorland’s…if we counted the way they do…we don’t.

BETTER Better is a tricky adjective… ask a dozen people and you’re likely to get a dozen answers. Here, it means simply, “not dumbed down.” All of the material on this website is written by a physician…for peers. Everything has been worded and re-worded, and in many cases, beyond that, for the sake of efficiency…  The intent is to provide colleagues with one to three paragraphs of succinct information when she or he comes across an unfamiliar term. This site is a tool. We believe you will find it useful.

BROADER The DMMD includes terminology from fields that are not included in traditional medical dictionaries. As examples, the DMMD has material from Alternative healthcare, Ethics, Evidence-based practice, Forensics, Informatics, Managed care, and Social care, to mention a handful of the nearly 100 areas of medical interest that have been tapped for source material. We have launched the Alternative Medicine subdatabase and plan to launch the Evidence-based practice and Forensics lexicons in the fall of 2018.

AUTHORITATIVE The DMMD is compiled/written by one person. Recognizing that a one-man show of any sort raises the question of credibility, many of the definitions/entries have references to the original source material. I haven’t counted lately, but the DMMD has over 30,000 references…compared to the relative handful found in the Dorland’s and other medical dictionaries.

FASTER The DMMD is a working database. In contrast to text-based (e.g., Kindle) medical dictionaries, where searches take a minute or more and may not find the information, searches in the DMMD are targeted, keyword-based, Google-like, and allow boolean searching. The average search takes a few milliseconds; sorting the 187,000 entries takes a few seconds.

TIMELY The database format of the DMMD adds a level of timeliness which is impossible with paper products and their cousins, text-based eBooks. Inefficiencies occur at all steps along the way of book production, including preproduction, printing, warehousing and shipping. None of this occurs when the work is a database, the freshest version of which requires only that one hits “send” for the recipients to use the latest version.

ALPHABETICAL ORDER It seems reasonable to expect a dictionary to be arranged alphabetically. Reason doesn’t always prevail in medical lexicography: iron-deficiency anemia is found under A for anemia; Parkinson’s disease is under D for disease; and draw-a-person test is under T for test. Once you get used to that particular quirk, you can usually find what you’re looking for, based on the rule: Noun first, Adjective second…usually. What if it’s one of those clinical entities that could be a complex, disease, disorder, malformation, or syndrome? The DMMD neatly solves this dilemma: you don’t have to know the preferred name. If you type in the name you’re used to, odds are pretty good that will be the right one. If not, the name you typed in is likely to be in the list of aliases and synonyms, and you’ll still end up in the right place instead endless guessing.

Brief comment: I started collecting this material in 1984, as a resident (registrar) in pathology. It was first published in 1992 with 12,000 terms, addressing the above criticisms. It grew over the years. The Dictionary of Modern Medicine‘s last paper edition appeared in 2006 with McGraw-Hill, with 23,000 terms.