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Introduction: New Medical Terms website explained

DNA Blot rough

DNA Blot rough

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 by a physician for peers, medical students and advanced health professionals. The NMT website itself 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 Categories of Terms). The terms on the NMT website are meant to whet the appetite of students at all stages of personal development, 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 has more entries than the closest competitor: Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, the 32nd edition of which has 124,000 entries. As of today 23 March 2019, the DMMD has 191,019 entries in varying stages of development. Interested readers can now download version 6 of the DMMD’s public release, which has 58,260 entries. Unlike Dorland’s, the DMMD does NOT count aliases and synonyms as proper entries. Whereas 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 had 216,231 aliases. As we do the math (191,019 + 216,231), at 407,250 terms, the DMMD is 3 times bigger than Dorland’s…if we counted the way they do…we don’t…we think it’s cheating.

BETTER Better is a tricky adjective… ask a dozen people and you’ll 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 succinct definitions for unfamiliar terms. This website is intended as edutainment; the down-loadable material as tools. We believe you will find the former interesting and the latter useful.

BROADER The DMMD includes terminology from fields not included in traditional medical dictionaries. As examples, the DMMD has material from Alternative healthcare, Ethics, Evidence-based practice, Forensics, Immunology, Informatics, Managed care, Social care, Transfusion medicine and Transplantation, to mention a handful of the nearly 100 areas of medical interest that have been tapped for source material.

AUTHORITATIVE The DMMD is compiled/written by a single author. Recognizing that this raises questions of authority,* credibility and validity, for many of the definitions, I’ve included the URLs from which I wrote the material. As of today, 23 March 2019, the DMMD has 56,478 references, many with URLs pointing to curated databases including the Genecards, OMIM, and UniProt databases, to help users dig deeper if needed. I’ve not counted the number of references in Dorland’s, but it is several orders of magnitude lower than that provided here…perhaps 500?

*The authority of medical dictionaries is traditionally based on multiple experts, not on peer-reviewed work.

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 191,000 entries takes milliseconds.

TIMELY Electronic products provide efficiencies that are impossible with paper products and their cousins, text-based eBooks. The latest edition of an e- product can be ported to subscribers in minutes; the latest edition of a paper product takes months from the time the final T is crossed by copy editors until it ships from the warehouse.

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 you don’t know if it’s a complex, disease, disorder, malformation, or syndrome? That would mean you might have to look under 5 headings: complex, disease, disorder, malformation, or syndrome.

The DMMD solves this dilemma: you don’t have to know the preferred name. If you type in the name you normally use, odds are pretty good that will be the right one. If not, the name you know is probably in the list of aliases and synonyms, and you’ll still end up in the right place instead of having to endlessly guess the proper name.