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PBL Information Resources and Tools for the First Year: Case 1: Lynn Hirschberg: What about my kids?

This guide provides resources and strategies for finding background, clinical and drug information, including evidence-based medicine strategies and specific information for problem-based learning exercises.


The following are textbooks of possible interest and are available either in print or online.  To find more books of interest, use the Roger search box below. 

Roger Search Box

Google Tips

Sometimes, the best source of information on a topic is from the government organizations - the many NIH divisions or perhaps the CDC or maybe both.  Google can help you see what all the government information sources are when you limit the results to just the .gov sites.  Specifically, if you are looking for information on hereditary colon cancer, try searching with

hereditary colon cancer site:gov

You might be surprised at all the resources you find.


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Week 1: Lynn Hirschberg - What about my kids?

What are your questions?  Do you have a question that requires general knowledge or background information (e.g., microsatelite instability)?  Are you looking to find the best diagnostic tool for the patient or perhaps you have a treatment related question? Those two questions might have answers found in both the textbooks (see the left side or the multi-site search tools below) or clinical tool (for example, DynaMed).

For those puzzling out acceptance of cancer screening, here is some recommended reading from Dr. Goldberg.  It is a recent CDC report on Cancer Screening Test Use.


Resources for this case include:

Textbook Suggestions (look left)

Textbook Collections

National Organizations

PubMed search tip - Targeting the Genetic Counseling Literature

Creating the Differential Diagnosis (DDX)

Resources to Explore:  Medical Errors and Professional Communication

Life-long Resources -- Genetics & Screening Guidelines 

Resources for Talking with Patients

Textbook Collections -- For Background Questions

Have a question about the basics?  Use one of the resources below to search through multiple textbooks at one time.

Life-long Resources -- Genetics & Guidelines

The following resources are available to everyone without a subscription and for the most part have been developed with government funding.  These tools will be available to you even when you graduate and move on from UCSD. 

Clinical Resources - Point of Care Tools

Point of Care Tools

There are two tools we have that fall into this category - eMedicine and Up to Date.  Both will, on occassion - just like any resource, have some great info for your look up.  However, due to their focus on being helpful for the busy physician needing info for patient care, they both assume that you have a certain level of understanding and have briefer information than you need for your write ups.  So, don't stop with this tool.  Find additional information to enhance your understanding of the topic so that you can fully explain it in the space you have to do so.

DDX & Symptom Checker Resources

Symptoms and differential diagnositic information is often buried in a number of our resources.  However, a few tools (both online and for your smart phone/PDA) have special tools to help with this process.

One book helps explain the thinking process (Symptom to Diagnosis) with topics that include a variety of non-specific complaints from low back pain to weight loss to GI bleeding, to abdominal pain.  One book has a list of mnemonics (Collins' book) as well as the symptom info.  Another book (Syed & Rasul's book) is organized by body areas and yet another one (DDX of Common Complaints) focuses on the most common symptions and presents the way a doctor might pursue to diagnosis (images & tests).  For those with a radiology interest the print book Clinical Diagnosis might be of interest.

Also listed below are some of the interactive DDX tools and their advantages.

Online Look-up Tools

PubMed Search Tip

Targeting the Genetics Testing Literature

When looking for articles that might have an ethics slant, PubMed has a way to focus on that literature without additional search terms to type-in.  Look for the filters once you have run a search.  For example, if you are looking for the literature on genetic testing (or try another topic, if you prefer), try the following search:   genetic testing colon cancer

After running a search for genetic testing & colon cancer, find the filter for Bioethics.  It takes a few steps to get it added and activated but it is well worth the effort when you have an ethics question.

Step 1   Step 2  Step 3 

Add Subjects Filter

Make "Bioethics" Filter Visible






Apply the Bioethics Filter

Click on it to narrow your results

You will find many interesting articles from parent perspectives about testing children to doctors releasing genetic information.


Get a different perspective.

Once you have done the ethics search, find the counseling info.  Take off the filter - just click on clear filters - and to your search term add counseling.  Your results will be just a bit different and should help round out your write up.

National Organizations

National organizations, both government and private organizations, often have very useful information for patients as well as physicians. 

Is it a Mistake?

Is it a mistake?  And, if so, what do you do about it?

Did the OB/GYN make a mistake in screening suggestions?  What if you thought so?  There is a great deal of literature on patient safety, medication errors, as well as surgical errors, but it is a little more difficult to find the resources that cover what to do about talking with a patient or a colleague about a possible mistake.  There is some literature discussing what and how to talk with a patient about an error.   However, the interprofessional, physician to physician, communication will be discussed in a variety of places, but you will have to dig for it.  The following are some places to start looking.

MedlinePlus: Information Tool for Patients

Having a "go-to" resource for patient information can be a big time saver.  Google will find you plenty of resources, but you will need to evaluate each one (of possible interest) to be sure they are a reliable resource with good information.  MedlinePlus gathers a wealth of vetted, reliable resources into one easy to use search tool. 

For this case, see what they have collected on Genetic Counseling.

Search MedlinePlus: