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From The CriticsReviewer: Lynn L. Cochran, MS, RN (Edward Hospital)
Description: This pocket guide provides a useful overview of physical assessment, relevant history, laboratory data, diagnostic tests, and significant disorders for each system. The emphasis is on clinical problems encountered in the critical care setting.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a handbook for common clinical problems in the critical care unit. The systematic approach to history, physical assessment, and pertinent diagnostic studies will aid the practitioner in the diagnostic work-up.
Audience: The intended audience is the critical care nurse, but nursing students would also find the handbook useful. The text does presume some general knowledge of physical assessment; many techniques are described but not illustrated.
Features: The organization of the chapters makes the book easy to use. The charts of physical assessment techniques are easy to follow. However, because some techniques are not illustrated, nurses with limited physical assessment skills may have difficulty applying the information in the chart at the bedside. Illustrations are particularly lacking in the neurological and musculoskeletal sections. The illustrations on respiratory patterns are not discernible. The remainder of the illustrations in the respiratory and cardiac sections provide useful content. The content provided in chart format on diagnostic tests and laboratory data is valuable to the bedside critical care nurse. During the diagnostic work-up, nurses often want better understanding of the tests ordered by the physician and enhanced knowledge of potential diagnostic procedures to consider. The information provided in this section is useful but limited because of the pocket guidebook format. The final section of each chapter covers common clinical disorders for the specific system. The outline of common clinical characteristics is valuable to beginning practitioners as they evaluate their findings at the bedside and make differential diagnoses.
Assessment: This handbook is a useful tool for the critical care nurse. I would recommend adding illustrations of neurological physical assessment. Although more content on the diagnostic tests and explanations of physical assessment techniques would be helpful, it is probably not possible in the pocket guidebook series.