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PBL Information Resources and Tools for the First Year: Case #12 : Lucy O'Reilly - An Everyday Case of Diarrhea

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.


Did you know ...  a keyword search in Roger will help you find books that might have your term in the chapter headings? 

So if you need information on something like hiatal hernia - which may return very few results if set for a title search - you will find some great books just by using it as a keyword search.  Look in the Roger record to get more details about the book and look at the chapter headings.

Google Tips

Searching Google for some info?  Don't forget to specify the types of sites you want to see.  Use site:org or site:gov to get results from private organizations or government organizations that have information matching your search terms.  You can even add   

Not Finding What You Need? Just Ask:

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

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Lucy O'Reilly - An Everyday Case of Diarrhea


The point-of-care clinical resources (Meedscape or Up to Date) might be very helpful with this case.  See the higlighted resource below for more information on Medscape.  

If you Google, be sure it gives you authoritative results with this search tip.


Resources for this case include:

Textbook Suggestions (look left)

Featured Resource --  Medscape

National or State Organizations

PubMed Search Tips --  Don't Forget the limits or filters (e.g., age)

Life-long Resources  -- Trip Database

Lab Tests -- Redux

MedlinePlus -- Search Widget


Looking to fill out a differential?  Revisit the DDX tools on the Background Resources tab.

Resource Highlight : Medscape

Medscape - An Online Reference Tool (Free)

Many of you have already found and used Medscape (recently rebraded as Medscape reference).  With so many library-subscribed resources, this one is often overlooked.  However, as a credible free resource, it is a good one to know, especially when you have moved on from UCSD.  (You need to create an account with Medscape to access information.)  Think of Medscape as similar to ACP Pier, First Consult, and Up to Date.  Also, I think their coverage of Pediatric issues is very strong - perhaps even better than the other three.

The tabs at the top of the article let you see a variety of topics from clinical presentation to DDX to how to workup to treatment & follow up.  The overview section also covers pathophysiology of conditions.


Why is Medscape good?  Can I trust their information?

Good questions you should ask of every resource.  These questions are not about whether you like the look of the site, but what evidence do they offer that they are reliable.  Here are a few things you can see right at the top:


  • Who wrote this?  Physicians with credentials and affiliations (and a disclosure statement) just like peer-reviewed journals
  • How old is this info?  Update date included - Jan 2012 (it is in the heading but covered by the box).
  • How full is their info?  Links to sections within this "article" and not seen in this picture are links to possibly associated information. 
  • What is their evidence?  To see it, all you need to do is click the link.  While the evidence is not graded they use very credible sources in their references.  Click "References" to see the list.



A couple of draw-backs include:

  • Requiring registration for accessing (Now you have to think about privacy of your info; however, you opt-in for emails and they don't spam you if you do.)
  • Advertising

National & State Organizations

PubMed Search Tips

Searching PubMed

There will be a great many articles on many of the topics this week.  Searches will be more relevent when an age filter is used.  It is a little hidden, but is one of the options on the left of the results screen.  The steps are very quick and probably takes longer to explain that for you to actually use.  The benefit is that it will significantly reduce the number of articles but make sure they are appropriate for someone Lucy's age.

First step - after running your search is to add the age filter.

  1. Click "Show additional filters"
  2. Add check mark (click) for Age
  3. Click on Show


Next step is to add the age group we want

  1. Click on "more" to bring up the list of age groups
  2. Add check mark (click) for young adults (19-24) 
  3. Click Show
  4. Now that it is on the list, click that option and it will change your results


  • You might find other filters that can help focus your search - for example clinical trials, meta-analysis, case reports, etc. as well as other criteria (like limiting to English Language articles).
  • Don't forget that you can also switch your view from Recently Added to Relevance.

You could also try the TRIP Database to look for articles -- see next box.


Life-long Resources -- MetaSearch Engine

Trip Database -- One Place to Search for High Quality Evidence

Focus on resources that offer high levels of evidence from well-respected evidence-based medicine resources.  The following resource is available to everyone without a subscription and for the most part have been developed with government funding.  Use the filters (on the right-side of the screen) to narrow to a specific specialty or type of resource.

Lab Tests Info - Redux

Resources for Understanding Lab Tests

Looking up information about the results of lab tests are mostly background questions.  The following resources are easy to use tools to find very reliable information about the normal valuesreference ranges, and more.  Don't do a global search in Access Medicine or MDConsult, go right to the resource you need -  Great for the albumin look up.


Lab Tests Online  
A peer-reviewed, non-commercial, and patient-centered resource. It is a free resource from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.


MedlinePlus: Information Tool for Patients

MedlinePlus is a great place to find consumer-friendly materials along with directories, a dictionary & encyclopedia, and more.  Take a look and see what you find - Celiac disease.

Search MedlinePlus: