MEDICAL LINKS FOR NZ GENERAL PRACTICE: A smorgasbord for beginners

The following list of medical links is a suggested introduction to some favourite Internet resources for NZ GPs. Of course, there are many other useful internet sites. Try searching Google Scholar – often you will quickly come up with the information you seek.
Free access to Medline – you only get the abstracts, but it is fast and easy to use.
Medscape is a US based medical resource most useful for CME and medical news, not as a reference resource at the time of consultation. You need to register, but it is free. The email newsletter may well be of interest.
The definitive source of travel advice. Your patients may well have already accessed this data before consulting you. Easily accessed and used during the consultation. Sometimes you need to follow a couple of links to find the specific information for the region you are interested in – for example the specific country-by-country links for malaria risk are listed in a link in the regional information pages (eg South East Asia).
Online manual for lab tests originating from Diagnostic Medlab in Auckland. Concise guide to interpretation of lab tests – including guidance about possible causes of abnormalities e.g., hypercalcaemia
Once you get used to using the Pharmac online schedule you can quickly find the current funding status of medicines, locate fully funded alternatives in a therapeutic group, and clarify special authority criteria (click on the “!” symbol).
The quickest way to get the form you need for a special authority application – forget the piles of out of date application forms you can never find in the office. But if you have a fast internet connection, maybe you should consider the new online SA approval mechanism. Be prepared for a short-term mountain of paperwork (the convoluted application process) in order to reduce your long-term paperwork burden!
If you don’t have access to the medicines datasheets through MIMS in your computer, this is the place to get detailed information about medicines registered in NZ. Remember to choose the “ingredient name” or “trade name” option from the drop-down box.
The consumer medicine information link for Medsafe – detailed patient information about medicines registered in NZ prepared according to a standardised format.
There is a lot of useful information in the NZ Guidelines group website, but it isn’t easily usable during a consultation. However, all the NZ guideline documents are available here for reference.
You and your patients can access the BMJ Publishing Groups carefully written evidence-based consumer health information links. The tradenames of drugs may not always be appropriate, and the list of topics is not exhaustive, but the material is high quality. Unfortunately you need a subscription to access the information for doctors.
The IMAC website has a wealth of information about NZ vaccination-related issues. Of particular interest is the online Pandemic Influenza training module which is a great way to get totally up to speed with the threat of H5N1 pandemic influenza from the NZ perspective.
MedTech users should not miss this site which offers a wealth of good advice and downloadable documents to be used by the Medtech system.
You can look up drugs for information about safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
NZ health information prepared by CMPMedica – the publishers of NZ Doctor magazine. Concise well-written patient information with relevant links
5 gold stars for the dermnet website: it has a huge library of information about everything to do with dermatology – both images and text are invaluable reference and education tools for doctors and patients.
Here are three suggestions for subscription based medical reference sites, all intended for use during consultations. Trial subscriptions are available:
Probably the “gold standard” for this type of thing, Uptodate is fast and easy to use. It is highly rated by users and there are many individual subscribers in Australasia. However it is moderately expensive.
Dynamed is similar in concept to UptoDate and is intended as a comprehensive online medical textbook. Many GPs in NZ have found this an easy and useful resource, particularly for beginners. Remember to use American spellings for best results.
A comprehensive database with a mixture of online fulltext journals, textbooks, and patient information. It takes some practice to find answers quickly but it is the most comprehensive resource. First Consult is a concise topic-based resource similar to UptoDate which is very easy to use for major topics, and includes a useful differential diagnosis tool. The patient information handouts in MDConsult are extremely comprehensive (it’s hard to imagine a more comprehensive collection), and well written.