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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Jill Pitcher, DO (Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine)
Description: Several small handbooks are available as quick reference tools for physicians. This handbook is unique, providing an insightful guide to the major medical specialties as well as a practical tool for portable, quick help in specific patient situations.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide sufficient medical knowledge about the most common presenting problems in the major specialties while encouraging sympathy, respect, and compassion in interactions with patients to prevent physicians from losing sight of the human aspects of medicine. In the authors' words, this "unique philosophy of patient-centered medicine" reminds us what we should be learning from the patient in a two-way exchange. Applying humanism as the basis of delivering medical care, the reward for the physician and proven healing effect for the patient becomes evident. I found this focus delightful and worthy of every physician's consideration.
Audience: Written by three physicians practicing in Great Britain, this book benefits two populations. Medical students seeking insights into different specialties before making a career choice will find thorough descriptions of the major medical and other professional issues they will face in each one. Since family medicine encompasses some aspects of all specialties, this section focuses more on current issues than disease, such as Internet health education, the pros and cons of evidence-based medicine, and the necessary expansion of quality care further into community-based primary care physicians' hands with a truly patient-centered approach. They consistently encourage sympathy and compassion in the many types of patient interactions primary care providers will face and the reward this brings in a career that encompasses patient care from conception to end of life. The authors mine their experience for rich, authoritative insights into these many aspects of medicine.
Features: The layout makes this book user friendly. Pocket sized, it is broken into chapters based on the major specialties and cross referenced. Each page is the sum of that topic, making a search for a particular topic easy. The authors use concise description, occasional cases, and humor in their approach to diseases physicians often see, providing reasonable treatment for each one. There are color pictures and graphs of good definition, including the Ishihara test for color blindness. The index is detailed and the book comes with three built-in page markers as well as a removable bookmark that has conversion factors and edges for measuring in centimeters and inches. One difficulty is the small font size, but perhaps only for older physicians.
Assessment: Although there are several good pocket-sized medical references, I have not seen one that has the detail and easy format for quick reference as this one does. It includes thoughtful tools and an invitation for feedback from the authors. What I find most appealing is the unique emphasis on the human aspects of practicing medicine that is evident throughout, which is blended well with the more frequently taught technical, knowledge-based information. The authors succeed in their goal of emphasizing connection and compassion as a means to delivering more effective patient care as well as supporting and enhancing the physician's reason for choosing this career. If you are looking for a quick reference medical book, you will not be disappointed. The focus on the perspective of compassionate humans caring for people in need is a particularly useful bonus.