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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 and written by a physician for other physicians, 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 the medical 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 188,479 entries (the user can now download a block of 38,000 of those definitions; the update, coming in August 2018, will have block of 46,000-ish definitions). 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 had 193,241 aliases. As we do the math, at 381,720, the DMMD is three times bigger than the Dorland’s…if we counted the way they do…we don’t…we think it’s false advertising…so we’re only 50% larger than the competition.

BETTER Better is a tricky adjective… ask a dozen people and you might 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 blocks of succinct information when she or he comes across an unfamiliar term. 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 that are 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 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. As of today, 04 July 2018, the DMMD has 50,307 references, the vast majority of which provide the URLs for definitive databases including the Genecards, OMIM, and UniProt databases, facilitating users’ further searching, especially on genes, proteins and inherited diseases. I’ve not counted the number of references in the Dorland’s, but the number is several orders of magnitude lower than that offered by the DMMD…I’m guessing…perhaps 500?

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 188,000 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, for which inefficiencies occur at all steps of production, including preproduction, printing, warehousing and shipping. None of this occurs when the work is a working database, the freshest version of which requires only that one hits “send” for recipients to access 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 of having to endlessly guess to figure out the right name.

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. Users who absolutely must have a text-based version (which has not been updated for over a decade), can get (1) a paper copy on eBay (type in Segen…medical…dictionary) or (2) an eBook copy for their Kindle or Nook via this website (see Main menu, Author’s eBooks).