eTBLAST: Plagiarists beware – cybersleuths are on the case

This article by Paul Taylor was published in the Globe & Mail on March 6, 2009:

Plagiarists beware – cybersleuths are on the case
An online program can scan medical databases for cases of copying, helping journal editors ferret out dubious reports
The article is about eTBLAST, a computer program developed by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and available on the Web at

Here is an article published in Nature: Errami M, Garner H. A tale of two citations. Nature 2008 Jan 24;451(7177):397-9.  PubMed Record

From the Web site:
eTBLAST is best described as a text similarity engine rather than a keyword search engine. For most search engines, such as Google and PubMed, the user must distill their ideas down to a very few keywords, and then try a variety of combinations of them to try to get the most relevant documents. eTBLAST takes a whole paragraph, such as a scientific abstract or, say, an invention description, which usually contains hundreds of keywords, as a query. The user simply pastes in their paragraph into the text box and then submits it to the engine using the “Search” button.

eTBLAST first takes this natural language paragraph, strips it of simple words such as “the, a, of, and” and then it searches its database (Medline, Institute of Physics, US Patent database, etc.) to find those entries that match the maximum number of the remaining keywords, weighted by the frequency of each keyword in all the literature being searched. This is a compute intensive process, but when done it keeps the top 400 ‘hits’ (e.g., Medline abstracts) and then it starts the second phase of the computations. It then does a sentence by sentence alignment, which then accounts for the proximity and order of the words in the query when compared to the abstract ‘hits’. A final similarity score is computed, and then the resulting ‘hits’ are ranked and presented to the user. The ‘hits’ can be viewed in your browser, as a link.

Top ten articles downloaded from Medical Education in 2008

med_educ  Here are the top ten articles downloaded from Medical Education in 2008. For now, these are available free online.

“What about the safe surgery checklist?” — Dr. Peter Benton


In January 2009 the New England Journal of Medicine published an article about the World Health Organization’s surgical safety checklist. (See this post for more information.) On March 12, the checklist was a key player in a scene in an episode of ER, and it helped save Dr. John Carter’s life. (See Dr. Peter Benton holding the checklist in the above image; the episode is no longer available for viewing.)

On March 16 this story became big news: ER episode puts safe-surgery checklist on the Hollywood map (Globe & Mail) and the story was picked up widely in the news and in the blogosphere:

“I have to tell you it got to me in a way I never anticipated,” the team’s leader, Atul Gawande of the Harvard School of Public Health, said in an e-mail. “Producing a checklist that could save lives is what we on our team at the World Health Organization spent the better part of two years working to make happen. And underneath it all is a cultural change for surgery exactly like ER depicted on a screen – a change from seeing ourselves as solo agents to effective teams.  But you begin to wonder if anyone is going to get it. What those few minutes showed me is that everyone will.” Download the checklist.

Watch a real surgical team in Toronto use the checklist.

Learning in interprofessional teams: AMEE Guide #38

medical_teacher.jpg From the March 2009 issue of Medical Teacher [available by subscription]:

Hammick M, Olckers L, Campion-Smith C. Learning in interprofessional teams: AMEE Guide no 38. Med Teach 2009 Jan;31(1):1-12.
This guide is for health and social care professionals who teach or guide others’ learning before and after qualification, in formal courses or the workplace. It clarifies the understanding of interprofessional learning and explores the concept of teams and team working. Illustrated by examples from practice, the practicalities of effective interprofessional learning are described, and the underlying concepts of patient-centred care, excellent communication, development of capacity and clarity of roles that underpin this explored.  PubMed Record

CME: ACCP Evidence-Based Educational Guidelines

chest  The March 2009 supplement of Chest (v. 135 supplement 3) is an Open Access special issue devoted to continuing medical education.  From the Executive Summary:
In 2005, the Education Committee and the Health and Science Policy Committee of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) recognized the need to assess the ACCP medical education curriculum. During this assessment process, a proposal was made to evaluate the literature to determine what continuing medical education (CME) tools and techniques are most effective in improving our physician members’ knowledge and skills. It quickly became clear that there was much more to be learned from this effort and that its potential impact could benefit not only the ACCP membership but also the medical education community as a whole.

Below are the article titles with links to full text. For complete citations and links to PubMed records, see this page on the CACHE Web siteSee also Effectiveness of Continuing Medical Education.

Neck pain and the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010

The February 2009 supplement of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics is a Neck Pain Task Force Special Supplement, containing reprints of articles from the February 2008 supplement of  Spine See also this post. And for an Open Access version, see this post.

From the editorial by Claire Johnson:

These are some of the most important documents published recently on the topic of neck pain and it is important that the broader community of clinicians and policy makers have access to these documents. Traditionally it is the JMPT policy not to allow duplicate or redundant publications. However the content of this supplement is an exceptional case. For this series of articles, we felt that these works are so important that they needed to be accessible to the current and future readership of the JMPT. Therefore, with the kind permission from Spine and the support from The Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders, we are able to reprint in its entirety this special supplement issue focused on neck pain. This supplement issue is provided to our readers at no extra charge through the generous support from The Task Force on Neck Pain.

This is good news for people with a subscription to JMPT.    PubMed Records