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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Vincent F Carr, DO, MSA, FACC, FACP (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
Description: This abbreviated approach to connecting symptoms with possible diagnoses includes very little discussion of physiology and tends to dilute the information a bit too much to be of value to trained medical personnel. The book was first published in 1975 and the most recent edition appeared in 2002.
Purpose: This is a book of lists to help inexperienced healthcare providers hone their skill at progressing from symptoms to a differential diagnosis to treatment decisions. This is a necessary step in a student's development and this book goes a long way in assisting in this process.
Audience: It is intended primarily for new practitioners. The authors suggest that it may help practitioners reduce needless diagnostic and therapeutic measures in arriving at a diagnosis, and this is a worthy endeavor.
Features: The book lists 100 common symptoms which could be encountered in everyday primary care and suggests areas of further exploration to develop a possible diagnosis. This edition suggests a website to help patients clarify their symptoms and track age-related preventive strategies. The glossary could be quite useful for beginners as well. One of the shortcomings of this book is that it does not go into enough depth on the symptoms that would be important for therapeutic decision-making. One example is in the asthma section, where I would expect a discussion of how to differentiate severity, such as intermittent or the varying degrees of persistent asthma.
Assessment: This is a useful book for beginning practitioners and perhaps has some utility for lay persons who want help in clarifying their symptoms. The suggested website is a nice patient education tool and is a good addition to the book.