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PBL Information Resources and Tools for the First Year: Current Case

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.

Course Textbooks

Sometimes, the best place to look is an already recommended tool - your course textbooks.  The online ones that pertain to this week are:


The following are textbooks of possible interest and are available either in print or online.  To find more books of interest, use the search box above and to the right.  Change the drop-down option from "This Guide" to Catalog.

Not Finding What You Need? Just Ask:

Not finding what you need?  Having trouble using one of our resources?  Please let us know.

Ask Karen - you can reach me at 858-534-1199 or at

Ask a Librarian - check out all the ways to reach one of us at the Biomed Library

Ask a UC Librarian - for those late night hour questions, chat with a UC Librarian 24/7

Vicente Lopez - He don't look too good

Undocumented immigrant healthcare information can be a difficult to find piece of information this week.  Most likely, an internet search will turn up the best info, but how do you find the quality details you need around the highly opinionated sites?   A couple of key search tips are:

  • Have an expectation as to who would have this information.  In this case, most likely state and local government organizations will have the more reliable information, although, potentially biased, as all information can be.  Ask yourself, do they have a special agenda that could dramatically impact the information they have?
  • Internet search tip - site:gov  added to the end of a search will guarantee only government (local, state, national, or international) are returned, for this topic, bypassing all other sites.  Or, maybe, see what organizations have to say.

See the Google Tips box below for more details and other tips.

Resources for this case include:

Textbook Suggestions (look left)

Resource Highlight -- Hazardous Substances Data Bank

The 4 W (& H) Questions - Background resources, plus ...

The Translating Question - How to get to the good stuff in PubMed

National or State Organizations -- from poison controll to suicide stats 

Cost of Care & EMTLA

Life-long Resources -- ToxNet & Poisindex  

Patient Support Resources

Google Searching Tips


Resource Highlight

Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) from ToxNet

HSDB is a toxicology database that focuses on the toxicology of potentially hazardous chemicals. It provides information on human exposure, industrial hygiene, emergency handling procedures, environmental fate, regulatory requirements, nanomaterials, and related areas.  Find details on the clinical effects, how the substance works in the body, side effects of exposure, as well as what to do for a patient.  A really great resource to know.

The What, Where, When, Why, or How Questions

Finding the Facts (and the background details)

Books are a great place to find the background questions -- the how, what, why, when, where type of questions.  Using the electronic books, you can look for a specific word and search through it, almost like using a book's index.  But, not all valuable books are electronic, so searching the catalog is going to help.  Books with the chapter headings might help you find some useful books. 

This week, you may need to look up things like glasgow coma scale or vital signs or oximetry.  Explaining those things is not well covered in resources like Up to Date, because there is the assumption that you already know these things.  Books (& the links below) are your best bet.

To Google Translate or Not? That is indeed a question to ponder.

Finessing PubMed 

What does the literature say about translation in the emergency department?  If you try this search in PubMed without some special techniques, it seems that nothing is really pertinent.- or is too hard to find.  Well, this is one of the times where a MeSH search can make a very big difference.  There is a MeSH term for translating that helps really target your search.  The other "thing" with this search is that there is variability in whether the ED is the emergency room or emergency department - so use both.

For example, try this:  "Translating"[Mesh] emergency (room OR department) 
       and, don't forget that sorting by Best Match can be expedient.


What about Google Translate?

You could try Google to see what somes up on Google translate in medical communications.  And, I would also throw that into a PubMed search.  There are some good things in both places.

National & State Organizations

National Organizations

Both government and private organizations often have very useful information for patients as well as physicians. Most of these are poison resources and the last one is a database for the cost of care in California.

On the internets you will find lots of different sites that have suicide information, trends, & stats, but most of them will use CDC or NIMH statistics.  These are the two nation-wide agencies that have an interest (and funding) to collection information at the national level.  A simple internet search -- with the added site:gov -- will narrow to some of the great resources available directly from these organizations.

The AHRQ website has a wealth of healthcare related information.  As a government organization they are in a position to pull together lots of data on health care, usage of health care services, as well as costs.

Cost of Care & EMTALA

Life-long Resources -- Lab Tests & Tox Resources

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. 

Google Tips

Google Searching Tips

Some times, the best resource for a topic is a government agency.  Immigrant health is a widely discussed topic over the past few years and you need a way to get past the opinion sites to the real data - whether it is state or national.

For example, try one (or both) of the following:

  1. health-care for undocumented immigrants california site:gov
  2. health-care for undocumented immigrants california site:org

For this search, combine the tip for limiting to a type of site --  add at the end of your search terms site:gov --
with a request for an organization that covers healthcare topics - especially cost analysis.  One organization, AHRQ (see National Organizations for details on this organization), is really good for this. 

Try the .gov search again but add AHRQ to the search 

health-care for undocumented immigrants California AHRQ site:gov

Patient Support Resources

Search MedlinePlus: