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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Renata H. Mullen, MD (Palo Alto Medical Foundation)
Description: This is a reference textbook of commonly seen dermatologic diseases. There is a color illustration and a brief description and treatment of each disease.
Purpose: The aim of this book is to provide a rapid reference of dermatologic disorders for the clinician. The book meets the this worthy objective, but it is arranged in a way that might make it difficult to find some entities.
Audience: The book is aimed at the non-dermatologist clinician. This includes emergency room and primary care providers. A medical student or resident would find this a useful reference as well. The authors are credible authorities on the subject matter.
Features: The book offers illustrations of 120 dermatologic conditions. Each section is arranged in a sequence that would be followed during an exam: a history, physical exam, diagnosis, a differential diagnosis, treatment, and management or follow-up is included. The best aspects of this book are the quality of the color illustrations, as well as the concise presentation of the subject matter. The differential diagnosis section is excellent and is an important feature of patient care which is often omitted in other books. The authors also offer an ICD-9 code for each entity, which is also useful to the clinician. The major shortcoming is that the book is arranged in alphabetical order, meaning clinicians must already have a pretty good idea what they are looking at in order to find the appropriate section in the book. For example, if a patient comes in with psoriasis, the clinician must at least think of this diagnosis in order to look it up; if the clinician forgets the name of an entity or is unclear of a diagnosis, then this book is of little help. A less important shortcoming is the lack of detail in some of the instructions for arriving at a diagnosis. For instance, the authors may instruct the clinician to perform a biopsy of a lesion to achieve a diagnosis, but fail to disclose at which site the biopsy should be performed, which may actually make the diagnosis difficult to discern on biopsy.
Assessment: This book would be most useful to medical students or residents completing a dermatology rotation. It would provide a quick reference and summary of diseases they are seeing and learning about. For the emergency room physician, a book that is organized by morphology might be more helpful, e.g., a section for blistering rashes, another for purpuric rashes, etc. There are several other similar books which are arranged by disease categories rather than in alphabetical order, and I think these would be easier to use.