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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Vincent F Carr, DO, MSA, FACC, FACP (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
Description: This American version of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Examination and Practical Skills, Thomas and Monaghan (Oxford University Press, 2007), is focused on the correct performance of the medical interview (history) and physical examination of patients. Among the several noteworthy aspects of the book are the exceptionally descriptive pictures and the traditional organ system chapter organization, where each chapter starts with basic anatomy and physiology and then is generally subdivided into symptomatology. This American version is closely aligned with the U.K. version, which works quite well.
Purpose: The authors say they recognize the need for a comprehensive book for junior physicians, and they have compiled exactly what they intended. This format works exceptionally well as a pocket reference that's easy to access to refresh the memory and to recall specific points for a particular organ system.
Audience: The book is written primarily for medical students and residents, but it is also a very good summary for practitioners looking for a specific reminder while performing a physical examination they don't normally do.
Features: The generalized approach to eliciting a history and performing a physical examination begins the book. The specifics of the examination are well detailed with extremely good illustrations and photos. The tables are very intuitive. In keeping with the focus on junior physicians, there is a concise, yet quite complete chapter on electrocardiographic analysis, and one on the basics of reading radiographs. The page size does not lend itself to very detailed reproduction of the x-rays, but it does have merit for house officers who are looking only for the basics.
Assessment: The organization by organ system, the pertinent historical cues practitioners should be looking for, and the complete description of physical findings supported by the excellent graphics makes this one of the best books on physical examination available. I highly recommend it to medical educators, medical students, residents, and attendings. There is much to be learned at all levels from this well-organized, well-written book.