Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Federal Medical Information Available Online

There are two special websites available to obtain free medical information from the Federal Government:  the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The National Library of Medicine started in 1836 and it is the world’s largest medical library. The library’s medical dictionary is a multi-faceted book designed to help understand the complexities of medicine.  Available online, the dictionary has three main sections: health topics; drugs and supplements; and videos & cool tools. The dictionary also has pages about word parts, their meanings and common abbreviations.  There is a tutorial available entitled:  Understanding Medical Words.

Health topics cover symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention for more than 900 diseases. This area of the dictionary is updated daily and is divided into areas such as: body location/systems; health and wellness; demographic groups; disorders and conditions and diagnosis and therapy.
Videos & cool tools have interactive tutorials; surgery videos and anatomy videos.  Games and quizzes also are found on the website.

Drugs, supplements and herbal information contain information about over-the-counter medicines; dosages; side effects and special precautions. Dietary supplements and herbal remedies are also detailed. Some of the topics included are: vitamins, steroids, pain relievers, cold medicines, cancer chemotherapy, blood thinners and anti-depressants.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) started in 1887 as a Hygienic Laboratory to study bacteria.  In 1922, the name was changed to Public Health Services and a special cancer investigations laboratory unit was established at Harvard Medical School.  In 1930 it was re-designated the National Institutes of Health.

Starting in 1967, Congress awarded grants, to research heart disease, cancer and strokes. There are now 27 separate institutes and centers doing research in biomedical science. Included in the institutes are: National Institute in Aging; Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Human Genome Research; Advancing Translational Sciences; Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and Dental and Craniofacial Research. Ten percent of the funding for NIH is “in house” and eighty percent is to outside researchers at more than 3,000 institutions. 
The NIH website,, and the NLM website, are available to all on any computer, but we invite you to access them at the State Library in rooms 341 and 442 of the State House on Mondays through Fridays from 9am to 5pm. 

Bette Siegel
Government Documents Librarian