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From The CriticsReviewer: Vincent F Carr, DO, MSA, FACC, FACP (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
Description: This book, one of a series that summarizes concepts as a memory jogger, outlines diagnostic and workup tips for common symptoms with which patients may present. The previous edition was published in 2004.
Purpose: The editor relates his personal experience of separating "the forest from the trees" and has initiated the series to simplify "the abundance of medical knowledge into a manageable nucleus." While this is a worthy objective, the success is in the details, and this book oversimplifies the solution.
Audience: The stated audience includes those preparing for rounds, studying for boards, or looking for resources for independent study. As a summary with lists of associated thoughts about a symptom, this book can be a worthwhile memory aid, but it does assume that the reader has a fundamental working knowledge of the subject. The contributors are mostly clinicians associated with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Features: Each chapter has a consistent format that includes bulleted statements under the headings of Diagnostic Workup and Initial Management and Differential Diagnosis. The shortcoming is the oversimplification in an attempt to maintain the "In A Page" format. For example, under heart murmurs, the differential diagnosis of prolapsing mitral valve has a description, "murmur shifts with cardiac maneuvers." This is simply too vague to be helpful. The book has an overwhelming in-patient bias, giving short shrift to what to do with an outpatient, such as in the section on hyperglycemia and hypertension. Consistent with the orientation of the book, there are no references, but there is also no reference to well established guidelines, such as the JNV VII for hypertension. Students preparing for boards must be very familiar with some of these guidelines.
Assessment: Nothing makes this book stand out as a must-have for a medical library and it has some significant deficiencies for anyone preparing for board examinations.