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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Edward M. McMahon, Jr., MD (University of Washington)
Description: This is a succinct yet encyclopedic handbook of core pediatric knowledge. Diseases and conditions are grouped into 17 chapters contributed by 10 pediatric subspecialists, all but one of whom are based at pediatric hospitals in London, U.K.
Purpose: The editors aim to "fill the gap" between "enormous postgraduate pediatric tomes" and "undergraduate texts with little detail." Specifically, this book contains material that will be tested for on the British MRCPCH exam, which I assume to be the equivalent of the American Board of Pediatrics certification exam. Whether a pediatric "Cliff Notes" is necessary is debatable, but the authors pack a lot of information into a relatively small space. Recall of "factoids" is a necessary skill when taking multiple-choice examinations.
Audience: This book is written for U.K. pediatric trainees preparing for the MRCPCH exam, and as a brief reference for medical students or practitioners. Broad in scope and telegraphic in style, this book would greatly benefit U.S. medical students and family practice residents during the pediatric portion of their training. The authors are credible and they provide up-to-date information.
Features: Most chapters begin with a brief overview of the basic nomenclature of the specialty, followed by a section on important physiology or anatomy. Brief synopses of specific diseases and conditions (description, diagnostic evaluation, and treatment) form the bulk of each chapter. Lists, tables, and diagrams further condense the material. The chapters on cardiology, renal, and neurological/neuromuscular problems impressed me the most. Unfortunately, this encyclopedic approach fails to rank diseases and conditions in order of importance or incidence. The material is presented in a black-and-white, dogmatic style, and is unreferenced except for a list of suggested readings at the end of each chapter. The appendixes of normal lab values are in metric units only.
Assessment: I am impressed by the wealth of up-to-date pediatric information in this book. It will be of great help to a student new to pediatrics to get up to speed on important terminology, physiology, and disease states. Although useful as a first reference, it is not a substitute for in-depth reading about specific conditions. I agree with the editors — reading this book could not help but improve performance on a multiple-choice certification exam.