Merck Manual

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Commentary: Trusted, Reliable Medical Knowledge Matters Now More than Ever


When the Merck Manual was first published in 1899, it answered a critical need for physicians. Within seconds, anyone with the pocket reference book could flip to a particular page and find current information on countless medical topics. Without the Manual, this information would have been far more difficult to find.

Today, the challenges around access to medical information have shifted. The average consumer has more medical information at their fingertips than we could have ever imagined more than a century ago. At the same time, physicians and other health care professionals widely acknowledge the challenges of keeping up with the onslaught of new research in their fields. Yet despite a wealth of information, it is not all created equal. Medical information that’s outdated, unverified, or inaccurate poses a threat to health outcomes.

Over the last generation, we’ve reached a turning point in medical knowledge. For much of the world today, the challenge isn’t finding medical information. It’s finding accurate medical information.

Achieving Global Medical Knowledge 2020

In 2015, the Merck Manuals made a bold commitment to address this new medical knowledge mandate. We pledged to make the best current medical information accessible to 3 billion medical professionals and patients by 2020. The desktop reference that always stood for credible and accurate medical information was advancing that commitment into the digital age.

Five years later, we’re proud to say we’ve accomplished our goal.

We’ve expanded the reach of the Manuals, making them available to more than 3 billion health care professionals, medical consumers, and veterinary experts across 241 countries. The content of the published Manuals, with contributions from more than 350 medical experts, is available in 11 languages and English. In addition to our websites with thousands of pages on health topics for consumers, medical professionals, and veterinary practitioners, we’ve made medical information available in a variety of engaging, accessible formats, including:

  • Mobile apps dedicated to consumers and medical and veterinary professionals available in six languages
  • More than 650 Quick Facts based on health literacy guidelines
  • Merck Manuals Medical Myths Podcast

All of these resources are completely free, with no registration required and no advertisements. They’re written and published by a network of medical professionals who are leaders in their fields and committed advocates for better outcomes through more informed patients and health care practitioners.

Our Commitment Continues with Global Medical Knowledge Awareness Day

Our vision for Global Medical Knowledge 2020 has always been rooted in our shared belief that access to accurate, timely and reliable medical information is a universal right. Everyone around the world has a right to medical information. But with that right comes a responsibility. We have a responsibility to continue our mission. Our commitment to trusted health information extends beyond the Global Medical Knowledge 2020 initiative.

Today, that commitment matters more than ever. Amidst a global pandemic, there’s never been a greater focus on medical knowledge. There’s never been a more important need for accurate, reliable medical knowledge. Our efforts to share medical information, best practices and cutting-edge resources that keep our patients and our families safe is vital.

Building on the success of Global Medical Knowledge 2020, we’re bringing new urgency to our focus on advocacy and awareness for trusted, reliable medical information. We’re doing this through Global Medical Knowledge Awareness Day.


“We know that when people are informed about their health, they make better decisions. They lead healthier lives. Global Medical Knowledge Awareness Day is a chance for everyone to take a proactive approach to health. It’s a chance for doctors, nurses, patients and caregivers to share what they know and showcase their commitment to accurate and credible medical knowledge.”
- Robert S. Porter, M.D., Merck Manuals Editor-in-Chief


Taking place on October 15, 2020, Global Medical Knowledge Awareness Day is a call for all health care professionals, medical students, and consumers to celebrate and promote the power of actionable health information. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Get Smart About Your Health: Take your health knowledge to the next level by learning about the connection between better medical knowledge and better health outcomes. Commit to reading one health article a week and engaging in lifelong learning around medical knowledge.
  • Make Sure Your Health Sources are Credible: Learn what sets good health information apart and how to vet online medical sources. Bookmark sites like The Merck Manuals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Talk to your health care provider about how to stay informed about your own health.
  • Keep Sharing Accurate and Current Medical Knowledge: Showcase your commitment by adding the Global Medical Knowledge badge to your social profiles and talking to family and friends about the importance of accurate medical knowledge.

Join us on October 15 for Global Medical Knowledge Awareness Day. Join us in promoting medical knowledge. Join us in advocating for health information that moves the needle. Join us in realizing better health outcomes. Medical knowledge is power. Pass it on.

Test your knowledge
Ischemic Hepatitis
Which of the following is the most common cause of ischemic hepatitis?