James C. Eisenach, M.D., Editor

Physicians' Guide To The Internet. By Lee Hancock. Philadelphia, Lippincott-Raven Publishers, 1996. Pages: 212 plus computer diskette. Price:$29.95.

The Physicians' Guide to the Internet, by Lee Hancock, is an introduction to the expansive world of Internet resources available for healthcare professionals. It is divided into two major sections, the first being a brief but comprehensive review of the history of the Internet and the computer linguistics involved in development and use of the Internet. The second, much larger section, is dedicated to Internet medical resources with specific access sites to e-mail, World Wide Web, and other Internet accesses for a wide variety of topics. Included in the topics specifically addressed are medical diseases, medical specialties, nursing and allied health, healthcare reform, education, grants and careers, and a general reference that includes medical libraries available through the Internet.

I am a novice Internet “surfer” with experience using the Netscape software to browse through the vast array of topics available on the Internet. Although the first part of the Physicians' Guide to the Internet was an interesting review of the history of the development of the Internet, I got bogged down by the terminology and complexity of the development of the Internet. At times, the text is simple to follow and requires little, if any, prior knowledge of computer science. Other sections are much more complex and detailed, and would be incomprehensible without some experience in the workings of computers. Despite this dichotomy, the discussion of the development of the Internet was an interesting historical perspective for my own education.

The bulk of the useful information is involved in the medical resources section. The individual sections offered resources for a vast array of medical topics, from A to Z. Unfortunately, as with most computer information, much of the information provided in the book is already somewhat outdated. User groups have expanded exponentially within the last 2–3 yr, universities (and individual departments within universities) have rapidly increased their presence on the Internet, and many newer search engines are available within the Internet. Specifically, nearly everything within this medical resources section can be accessed by using a web browser search function, such as Gopher or Yahoo, or other search programs available through any Internet access.

Despite these drawbacks, there are many sections in this book that could be missed by a casual browse through the commonly available Internet search engines. This includes a listing of many small Internet discussion groups not easily found elsewhere, including such topics as Hyperbaric Medicine, IV Therapy Medicine, and Radiology Cases in Pediatric Emergency Medicine. The unique collection of medically oriented Internet access sites is very impressive and would be highly suitable to any medical center library.

Although this book is, perhaps, not good bedtime story reading, there is a great deal of detail involved in the classification and descriptions of the Internet access sites available that are of interest to medical personnel. Although a personal copy may not be necessary, I would highly recommend that this be added to any medical library for individuals who may need specific reference on medical-related topics available through the Internet.

Drew A. MacGregor, M.D., Assistant Professor of Anesthesia and Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157.