September 10, 1997

The ED and the PCInternet Resources for Emergency and Disaster Care

Author Affiliations

From the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md (Dr Sikorski; e-mail:; and the Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr Peters; e-mail:

JAMA. 1997;278(10):869-870. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550100095047

If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr

A chemistry graduate student is brought to the emergency department (ED) after an unintentional exposure to an unknown amount of the organic solvent aniline. The treating physician who sees the student is not familiar with all of the potential adverse health effects of the compound. While a colleague begins initial stabilization of the patient, the physician uses a computer in the ED to rapidly access an Internet site that provides detailed toxicology information from the US Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to general background information, the physician learns that a methemoglobin level can be used to indicate the degree of systemic poisoning.

The paramedics who brought the student to the ED, concerned about their own possible exposure, also spend time on the Net reviewing the literature on aniline.

Emergency physicians are increasingly