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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Vincent F Carr, DO, MSA, FACC, FACP (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
Description: Everyone in the practice of medicine faces the problem of getting accustomed to facing a patient for the first time and having to obtain a history and perform a physical examination, then putting it together in a differential diagnosis. This book makes the early efforts much simpler. This updates the first edition published in 2003.
Purpose: While everyone in medicine must develop the skills to elicit a reasonable history and physical examination, it is a skill set that takes time and exposure to many patients. The author makes a great observation — that medical students have difficulty understanding that they cannot ask every patient the same questions. This book goes far in helping students understand how to tailor their interview according to the patient's responses to the initial inquiries. Although this is written in a definite British manner of speech, it is of great utility for American students. The authors have developed a highly credible and easy to read book.
Audience: One may assume that the value of this book would be limited to medical students, but that is incorrect. The book has many simple pictures that students can use as an overview, but these also have great utility in explaining diagnoses to the patient. The pictures of the cardiac valvulopathies are tremendously useful as patient explanation aids. The author clearly understands how to teach.
Features: The book begins with a section about how to approach a patient. It is clearly written and while it states what some might consider the obvious, the author makes a valid point with its inclusion. The main portion of each section is dominated by a color rendition of the affected organ system, with accompanying symptoms/historical items, and physical examination points. Where appropriate, there are tables for differential diagnoses. The index is complete and useful. There are not many references, consistent with the purpose of the monograph, but the ones that are included are pertinent. At the end, there is a helpful self-assessment that students may use to critique their own performance.
Assessment: Beginners start here. This is an extremely useful book for beginning medical, nursing, or ancillary health professional students. The author has provided an excellent contribution to medical education.