How does Martin Izakovic, MD, medical director of the hospitalist program at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, suggest keeping current with medical literature?
“Let your journals pile up in your office, including the free ones you never subscribed to, feel guilty about throwing any away, tell yourself you will get to them one day, and then watch as it almost never happens.”
Dr. Izakovic is kidding, of course, but it’s no joke trying to read the wealth of medical information published daily. In fact, some people call it impossible. So to stay afloat, many hospitalists go electronic or turn to journal clubs.
Electronic Resources to the Rescue
It’s not for lack of trying that you can’t get through all the literature out there. Most hospitalists we queried say they only skim through the major internal medicine-related journals, including the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, and the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
What really keeps hospitalists apprised of the latest medical news and research, they say, comes to them by way of the World Wide Web—straight to their inboxes. To start, many register for e-mails of journal tables of contents. Others subscribe to the American College of Physicians Journal Club, which reviews and critiques journal articles, rates the relevance of each article on a five-point scale, offers a customized literature updating service, and bundles mailings with the Annals.
Some physicians, like Leora Horwitz, MD, assistant professor in the division of General Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, only wish to receive information pertinent to specific topics. To make this happen, Dr. Horwitz sets up a search through Ovid or PubMed that runs about every two weeks and flags new articles that match her criteria.
“I only do this for absolutely key areas and I make the search criteria very restrictive so I only get one to two hits a month at most,” she says. “Then I set up an alert for one or two major articles in each field I am interested in.”
Dr. Horwitz also sets up alerts for her own published articles.
Hospitalists who work at academic institutions, in particular, are inundated with information via grand rounds, lectures, and formats for topics related to hospital medicine.