Clinical Cases Make Blog a Popular Resource
When people first learn about medical blogs, they assume that these sites are simply online diaries written by healthcare professionals. And it's true that many are. But medical blogs come in all shapes and sizes, a testament to the diversity and inventiveness of their writers. Many blogs feature educational content, and some are exclusively educational, such as the Clinical Cases and Images Blog, managed by Dr. Ves Dimov.
Dr. Dimov started this blog as an outgrowth of a learning tool, also called "Clinical Cases and Images," which he developed with residents at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Now a hospitalist at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Dimov has continued adding to the site, making it a tremendous resource for physicians and students around the world. Featuring step-by-step guides to line placement, x-ray interpretation, and more, the site fills a gap in medical textbooks and everyday practice. His work has received praise from numerous sources, including the British Medical Journal. Dr. Dimov explains how the blog emerged from his educational Web site:
After we got the top positions on search engines for "central line" and "arterial line" placement, I realized that the Web site was much more than a bulletin post for a residency program. The clinical cases in everyday practice are often very different from the textbook descriptions...
The Web site we started was organized in categories. I had ideas or commentaries that were not practical to put in any section but I did not want to forget the next day. The blog started as a notebook to collect those ideas...
Most of his posts are footnoted and cross-referenced; even personal musings on topics like happiness and physician fulfillment have citations from the literature (and a nifty mnemonic, to boot). But don't expect Dr. Dimov to vent about a stressful day or wax poetic about an innovative study:
I did not start writing just to express opinions. The goal is to share knowledge about a topic, based on clinical experience and literature, and to get feedback. On the blog, I sometimes comment on a news story but I always have in mind that despite my disclaimer ("All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer"), I still represent my employer.
"Inflammable" posts and angry rants get a lot of links and comments but erode the credibility...
And so, Dr. Dimov continues to cover news stories and research developments in his thoughtful, evidence-minded manner. As his blog's archives accumulate and he processes feedback from readers, he can develop new education tools. Those who find his Web site useful can learn more about it from his blog, in posts describing HIPAA laws on case discussions or how doctors use Google.
As Dr. Dimov notes, "Traditional Web sites are static. Blogs are live organisms; you can see them grow and anybody can comment right there on the page."
On January 10, 2006, the living organism known as "Clinical Cases and Images Blog" will host Grand Rounds. Each week, a different medical blogger compiles the best posts from other online writers into a new edition of Grand Rounds and features it on his or her own blog. This special post attracts thousands of readers from all parts of the medical world. Follow the link to Grand Rounds (the link will go "live" on January 10) to find out more.
Grand Rounds has become a showcase for quality medical writing, and it serves as a useful introduction to the world of medical blogging. Tune in again next week, when the January 17 edition appears at Gruntdoc.
Note: This Pre-Rounds column is based on an interview with Dr. Dimov.