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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Bruce E. Johnson, MD (University of Kansas School of Medicine)
Description: This pocket-sized book uses algorithms to describe and evaluate the diagnostic approach to more than 230 different clinical signs and symptoms.
Purpose: The author states that most textbooks of medicine "are not very useful for the busy practicing physician." He believes this deficiency can be corrected by applying algorithms to common clinical signs and symptoms.
Audience: The book would be targeted for most generalist physicians from student to practitioner.
Features: There are no illustrations or references. The signs and symptoms are listed alphabetically. The book is a large, pocket-sized design that appears concise. Comprised largely of algorithms, the accompanying text suggests questions to be asked and exams to be performed. There also are suggestions as to when a patient should be referred to a specialist.
Assessment: It is difficult to know how to evaluate algorithms. For some, algorithms clarify and direct; for others, algorithms limit and confine. Some of the algorithms in this book are excellent, especially those dealing with neurological signs or symptoms. Other algorithms are factually or conceptually limited or even misleading. The accompanying text is spotty, being simplistic in places and too ready to refer to specialists. Although the title suggest a "cost-effective approach," there is no systematic mention of cost in the text.