Introducing C.F.O.A.M. (and Other Changes)

It is June, 2012 at a pub in Dublin, Ireland. During a break in an international Emergency Medicine conference, and over a pint of Guinness stout (what else?), several doctors were discussing how much medical information was freely available online. Everyone in attendance agreed that the way that medical information is shared has changed radically in the last 30 years—from a few choice textbooks on the office bookshelf and subscriptions to a few medical journals to the availability of most textbooks and journals instantly, online. Not only that, but instant messaging services like Twitter make it possible to get medical help from experts almost instantly—even if the expert is on the other side of the world! In fact, the main problem now is harnessing the incredible potential of the internet to improve medical knowledge and decision-making. Where are the really good reservoirs of medical information online? How can we more easily communicate with our colleagues and friends when we need help with a vexing case?19970122

Thus, F.O.A.M. was born. F.O.A.M. stands for Free Open Access to Medicine. The emergency medicine doctors who began F.O.A.M. have developed an impressive databank of excellent online medical material. In order to make it into F.O.A.M., material has to fulfill three criteria:

1. It has to be free, open access. They do not include sites that require a subscription.
2. It has to provide medical education. This can be in the form of blogs, lectures, podcasts, tweets, Google hangouts, online videos, text documents, photographs, Facebook groups and on and on.
3. It has to be of good quality.

If you want to know how we practiced medicine 5 years ago, read a textbook. If you want to know how we practiced medicine 2 years ago, read a journal. If you want to know how we practice medicine now, go to a (good) conference. If you want to know how we will practice medicine in the future, listen in the hallways and use FOAM. —Joe Lex, 2012

However, from a Correctional Medicine perspective, the problem with FOAM is that it is focused on Emergency Medicine and so most of the material is not relevant to corrections. (I haven’t put in a chest tube even once since I began working in jails)!

So we need to create our own correctional FOAM database. I am calling this CFOAM (pronounced “sea foam”), which stands for Corrections Free Open Access to Medicine. CFOAM seeks to gather together in one place those blogs, websites, lectures, and so on that pertain to Correctional Medicine. Do you know of such a site? Send it on!

If you look at the page tabs at the top of the JailMedicine website, you will notice that “Off the Grid Reading” is no longer there. I will still post interesting Off the Grid articles, but I will post them to the JailMedicine Facebook page instead. The latest Off the Grid article posted on Facebook JailMedicine is The Older Mind May Just Be a Fuller Mind, which I think is about the reason older people forget things—but I’m not sure anymore.

Replacing Off the Grid Reading will be CFOAM, a collection of ever-expanding resources for the Correctional Medicine Professional. I will periodically highlight one or two of these sites on JailMedicine.

Kicking off CFOAM are these three excellent resources

One Minute Medical School
I don’t know when I last ran across a site that was so fun! In this site, Dr. Rob Trazwell of the University of British Columbia summarizes various medical topics by drawing pictures on a white board and narrating the underlying principles. The key, though, is that he does all of these in about 60 seconds. It is amazing how much information he can pack into that meager minute. Miss something important? Watch it again! It will only take a minute!

Common Sense Family Doctor
This excellent blog is written by Dr. Kenny Lin, who practices family medicine in Washington DC. He is not afraid to tackle controversial issues. And since he is such a good writer, his articles are both fun and interesting. Check out Why don’t clinicians discuss cancer screening harms?

Therapeutics Initiative: Evidence Based Drug Therapy
The Therapeutics Initiative has as its mission “to provide physicians and pharmacists with up-to-date, evidence-based, practical information on prescription drug therapy.” Their reports are timely and interesting. For example, Is use of quetiapine for sleep evidence based? Answer: No. So why is it so often done?

More CFOAM to come! You can help. Where do you turn for medical information on the internet? Please send me your favorites, to post on CFOAM.unnamed

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