Historical Medical Posters

I had a wonderful website emailed to me from the medical librarian email list that contained a digital collection of historical medical posters from the 1940’s on.  Yale University and the Harvey Cushing/ John Hay Whitney Medical Library have compiled an excellent collection of authentic medical posters complete with digital images and original publishing information. You can look at all of the images at this URL: http://cushing.med.yale.edu/gsdl/collect/mdposter/

Some of my favorites are listed below.





Public Health:



Save his life… and find your own. Be a Nurse. [Poster].  U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 1943. Available from: http://cushing.med.yale.edu/gsdl/cgi-bin/library?c=mdposter&a=d&d=DmdposterposterAABH

Typhus is Spread by Lice…Report Lice At Once. Use Louse Powder. [Poster] U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 1944. Available from: http://cushing.med.yale.edu/gsdl/cgi-bin/library?c=mdposter&a=d&d=DmdposterposterAABF

EAT to beat the devi. [Poster]  Servel, Inc.  1942. Available from: http://cushing.med.yale.edu/gsdl/cgi-bin/library?c=mdposter&a=d&d=DmdposterposterAACI

Variety in US Life Expectancy

CBS reported this week on an interesting trend in life expectancy.  While the US average for life expectancy is still increasing, in many counties throughout the country, it is actually falling.  Some of the theories outlined in the article include a shift in population to areas where health care is more available or more affordable, and a higher rate of preventable health conditions such as obesity and smoking.

The research article suggests that the migration theory is unlikely, though, because many of the counties with low life expectancy are very close to  counties with high life expectancy.  This type of research is unique in the presentation of health statistics.  The provisional PDF is available at: http://www.pophealthmetrics.com/content/pdf/1478-7954-9-16.pdf. The complete published article will be available shortly.


DyBuncio, M. (2011, Jun 16).  Life expectancy falls in many parts of U.S.: Why?. CBSNews. Retrieved from: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20071539-10391704.html

Murray, C.  Et Al. (2011).  Falling behind: life expectancy in US counties from 2000 to 2007 in an international context. Population Health Metrics, 9:1. Provisionally available from: http://www.pophealthmetrics.com/content/pdf/1478-7954-9-16.pdf

Googling Tips

If there is one thing I have come to expect in my years of teaching library instruction, it is that when students get frustrated they will always turn to Google.  As often as I encourage them to use more scholarly resources, I feel that they should also be able to use such a widely know resource effectively.  That is why I want to share with you some tips that were published in the Chronicle of Higher Education and sent to me about searching with Google.

Limited URL: use site: plus the * and the ending of the URL, e.g poverty site:*.oh.gov
  • Allows you to search within a large website such as ysu.edu
  • Allows you to limit your search to credible URLs such as .gov or .edu
Exclusion: use minus symbol without a space in front of a search term, e.g salsa -dance
  • Allows you to remove commonly confusing items
  • Works the same way as “not” in academic databases
Numeric range: use two numeric parameters with two dots in between,  e.g. nobel peace prize winners 1980..2009
  • Searches for a rage of numbers along with your search term.
  • Another example would be “famous inventions 1920..1930”
Related: use related: plus the url of a web site, e.g related:nytimes.com
  • Gives pages related to one you are already aware of.
  • For instance, “related:www.cdc.gov” will bring up the WHO, NIH, US Dept. of Health and Human Services, etc.

While some of these tricks are complicated, they can be very useful to someone who is struggling with their research, or has trouble evaluating web sites.  Try it next time you’re out there Googling!

Healthy Travels!

With the promise of warmer weather right around the corner, I have no doubt many of you will be planning trips over the summer months.  The CDC has also been anticipating the summer travel season with the release of the 2012 Traveler’s Health Yellow Book.  In it, you’ll find tips about recommended vaccines, travel notices, and other tips for staying healthy on your trip.

One of their resources that I really enjoy is the drop down menu of destinations that you may be visiting on the Traveler’s Health homepage: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/

In the purple box you can choose the country you’ll be visiting to see a quick checklist of travel notices, security information, vaccine recommendations, and more.  If you’re planning a trip abroad this summer I definitely suggest you give this website a read.

How it Feels to Have a Stroke

In this post I’m going to be showing you a video from the group called TED.  For those of you unfamiliar with TED, it is a non-profit group that focuses on getting ideas out to the public.  They cover everything from social issues, to technology, to health.  Each video or lecture is designed to spread knowledge and insight.

Obviously, the video I’m going to share with you is one that is geared toward the health focus.  In this video, Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor talks about the stroke that she experienced and how she felt at each stage.  It is a fascinating look into the experiences of having a stroke and at the way our brains function as two separate hemispheres.  I hope you’ll enjoy her insights as much as I did.

Reducing Health Disparities

The Associated Press reported on a plan to reduce the disproportionate amount of minorities that are affected by serious health conditions.  One of the best things about the plan is that it relies only on money that is currently available and will not be affected by the current budget debate.

Some concrete goals include increasing Spanish speaking translators and creating  a nationwide database of those translators so that any hospital can find one when necessary.  This specific step will go a long way towards helping with health literacy for Spanish-speaking patients who often have no understanding of the care they are being given.

Another goal is to train local people to help their neighbors stick to care plans for diabetes and asthma, two conditions that can be difficult to manage and often go untreated. The plan also intends to increase preventive dental care which is sorely lacking in many minority groups.

I am a big fan of this plan because it is based on concrete goals which will help improve the lives of many people.  It’s goal is to help educate as well as treat which will not only help this generation, but the next one that will be more health literate because of it.


The Associated Press. (April 8, 2001)  “Govt Announces Plan to Reduce Health Disparities.” Retrieved from

Federal Health IT Strategic Plan

As a part of the American recovery and reinvestment act, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has released a strategic plan to increase technology in health care environments.  The mission stated in the summary of the strategic plan was:

“To improve health and health care for all Americans through the use of information and technology”

The whole document is about 80 pages long and can be found, along with the summary, at this URL: http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=1211&parentname=CommunityPage&parentid=2&mode=2

More important than the strategic plan, though, is some of the funding opportunities the ONC will be overseeing in order to help increase IT in health care.  Many of these grant and other project opportunities can be found here:



I am particularly interested in the progression of one project from this initiative called the Nationwide Health Information Network.  Committees began work to build this network in March of 2010.  It is intended to facilitate the transfer of patient records through an electronic health system.  You can read all about the initiative here: http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt?open=512&mode=2&objID=3340

Medical Advancements of the Civil War

This past Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of attending a lecture given at the Rose Melinick Medical Meseum by Dr. Peter D’onofrio.  Dr. D’onofrio gave the lecture in an authentic Union dress uniform. He spoke about the rapid advancements in military medicine that were made during this time out of necessity.

Before the Civil War, there was no organized unit of military doctors, no ambulances, and no system for caring for the wounded.  Often the military doctors would only help the men in their unit.  Dr. D’onofrio told a story of a doctor that refused to help a doctor from another unit that had taken heavy injuries because he didn’t want to leave his unit.

The system for removing injured soldiers from the battlefield was significantly improved by the creation of a formal ambualce core.  Prior to this, other soldiers would stop fighting in the middle of a battle to carry away the injured leaving the battlefield virtually empty.

Female nurses were another significant change that came out of this war.  Dorthea Dix led the addition of women into the army medical workforce.  Female nurses are attributed with making medicine more compassionate.  Previous mentalities about pain included the theory that pain was beneficial during surgery to help with the shock.  The civil war began the use of anesthesia via ether or chloroform.

The importance of sanitation was observed during this time as well.  Physicians  would go days without washing their hands or instruments, and hospital tents were steeped with disease and infection.  New advancements in ventilation helped to make hospital tents cleaner and a new system of detailed records made them more efficient.

The Civil war still holds the record for the highest casualties of any American war.  However, during this time the practice of medicine was propelled forward with amazing speed.  Some other advancements during this time include:

  • Stains for hematological slides
  • The practice of sealing sucking chest wounds
  • The creation of dentistry as a separate specialty
  • The need for immediate treatment
  • New splinting and bone setting techniques
  • Transportation of patients over rail

I was highly impressed by the amount of information Dr. D’onofrio conveyed in only an hour.  I came away from the lecture with a greater understanding of the conditions of the Civil War and a new respect for the types of advancements that we take for granted in daily life today.

I encourage you to visit the Rose Melnick Medical Museum if you are interested in Civil War Medicine or any other topic in the history of medicine.


Drug Pricing Gets Political

An article in TIME this week highlighted the pharmaceutical company KV Pharmaceuticals.  They recently released news that they would be selling a newly engineered progesterone drug for more than 150 times the cost of competitors.  The drug was used for many years as a hormone replacement when a clinical trial discovered that it could also be utilized to prevent premature births.  This is the version of the drug that has seen the dramatic price increase.

Sentaor Sherrod Brown from Ohio has contacted the company to urge it to reconsider their price structure for this drug.  Current versions already on the market cost around $10 per dose.  The new FDA approved version costs $1,500 per dose.   Senator Brown pointed out that this type of pricing makes the medication impossible to get for many women, causing the increase of premature births.

With state budgets in the news constantly, controlling the cost of health care has become a necessity.  There was no mention of any legislation to combat the pricing.  The company has cited the very cost of premature birth as justification for the high price of the drug.

Read the full article at the link below:



Health Literacy Tools

A recent article from the kaiser foundation focused on health literacy.   Health literacy has been getting more attention recently because of a 2007 study that showed it can add up to $238 billion to national health care costs annually.  This article explains about the different types of health literacy, from basic reading skills to applying treatment plans, and even soem of the new ways to combat the problem.

One method many hospitals are adopting is a computer software program that seeks out medical jargon in patient education materials.  Medical jargon seems as though it would be simple to identify, except when you think about it in the terms Dr. Javed Butler points out: “When we say ‘diet,’ we mean ‘food,’ but patients think we mean going on a diet. And when we say ‘exercise,’ we may mean ‘walking,’ but patients think we mean ‘going to the gym.’ At every step there’s a potential for misunderstanding.”

Another effort to reduce health literacy came from Boston Medical Center where doctors introduced a program called RED.  In this program the patients were given a personalized discharge booklet to help them follow their treatment plan, make follow up appointments, and contact a pharmacist. The program reduced readmission rates by 30% and cut costs by 33%.

These results are goals that all medical professional should be aiming for.  To read more about either of these programs, please see the link to the original article below.