Description: This is the fourth edition of a handbook that defines the scope of practice for general practitioners, in that it makes specific recommendations about when to refer a patient to a specialist. The first edition was published in 2002 and it was last updated in 2010.
Purpose: This handbook is a most welcome idea as medicine is progressing at great speed and many clinicians are constantly working to stay current. The editors provide a significant work for primary care clinicians worldwide.
Audience: The intended audience is clearly general practitioners practicing in the U.K., but the book has tremendous utility in defining the scope of practice for the various physician extenders in the U.S. During a time when the emphasis is on access to primary care while the number of physicians only slowly increases, the employment of physician extenders becomes more prominent. This book gives very helpful guidance to extenders about when to refer a patient for specialty care.
Features: This book is in the plastic-covered, pocket-sized format the Oxford Handbook series is known for, and it has tremendous utility. The chapters are divided in the usual organ system manner. In each chapter, there is a unique characteristic with a short review of the anatomy and physiology, typical symptoms patients might report, a focus on individual diagnoses such as diabetes or benign skin tumors, typical complications, treatments, and suggestions for when a case should be referred. The photos are in full color and well presented. As with all books from the U.K., the units of measurements and the algorithms are those typically used in that country, and U.S. clinicians should be cautious about following U.S. standards of practice.
Assessment: This is a tremendously useful book for setting out the basics of primary care and suggesting when to refer a patient, which can be a difficult decision for those who don't have residency training.