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From The CriticsReviewer: Stuart Schlisserman, MD (Private Practice)
Description: This fourth edition of the Oxford Textbook of Medicine comes seven years after the third in a three-volume set and covers in depth topics in medicine along with a spattering of other subjects which are more superficially reviewed.
Purpose: The editors' goal was to provide a "gold standard" textbook that gives physicians a background and understanding to better judge new information as it arises. It is a lofty goal and one which the editors have attained. The rapidly changing nature of medicine warrants a textbook which provides a foundation for physicians. On several subjects I found reading the text to be superior to Internet searches.
Audience: The book is intended for medical students, residents and practitioners in internal medicine, family practice, and primary care.
Features: In addition to covering topics in internal medicine and its subspecialties, the book also includes some general reviews of other subjects including psychiatry, neurology (more in-depth), dermatology, ophthalmology, gerontology, and adolescent medicine. I particularly appreciated the chapter on non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It was an excellent source of information, with easy to follow tables and charts. The color plates are helpful, although some of the photos are too small to fully appreciate the impact of the image. It would have been helpful to include more anatomic diagrams when describing certain disease processes. Given the current popularity of complementary/alternative medicine, I would have liked more space given to the topic, including a discussion of the lack of randomized controlled trials to support some of the claims made by some practitioners. The nature of any textbook is that the information cannot be completely current. For instance, there is no section on SARS in this edition, but the editors do include a section on global disease patterns. The size of the book is daunting, and certainly occupies a large portion of the bookshelf. For some it may be cumbersome to handle, and a CD-ROM version — if not already on the shelves - should be made available.
Assessment: I only wish there were not so many years between editions of this book. It is an invaluable source of information, well written by experts in their respective fields. It will be the first reference source I choose when questions arise as I continue to practice medicine.