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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Darrell A Owens, DNP (University of Washington School of Nursing)
Description: This quick reference for hospice and palliative medicine includes information on having difficult conversations with patients and family members as well as resource information for pain and symptom management, making house calls, prognostication, and managing the hospitalized patient. It is unique in that it is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.
Purpose: "It is intended as a portable guide to communication skill techniques, symptom management options, and ethical issues for any member of a palliative medicine team. There are similar books in the field, but none as portable as this one. While the book meets its objectives, this information can be found in many books and there is not a need for another generalized guide to hospice and palliative care. "
Audience: The intended audience includes all members of the palliative medicine team, such as physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists, and trainees. However, the presentation makes it clear that this is a book written by a physician for physicians. Although the intended audience indicates the book can be used by the entire interdisciplinary team, the author's viewpoint is that of a physician. There is no reference to nurse practitioners as team leaders, or to the fact that anyone other than a physician can lead a palliative medicine team, something that is not the case in practice. This book does not reflect that many palliative care teams in the U.S. are developed and directed by nurse practitioners, with minimal physician involvement.
Features: The book includes an overview of the definitions and regulations related to hospice and palliative care, guidelines for establishing and clarifying goals of care, determining prognosis, and management of pain and other complex symptoms. Easy to read, nicely summarized charts present the denser content to achieve a book sized to fit in a pocket. The chapter on prognostication is the most useful and interesting. While there are many books on pain and symptom management, few provide this level of detail on prognostication.
Assessment: This is a thorough, yet succinct guide for palliative care physicians. It contains the same information as many other palliative medicine references, but its unique feature is its size. Unfortunately, it does not reflect that palliative medicine is not a physician-led discipline, and there are other books that approach the topic from a more interdisciplinary perspective. I would not recommend this book for clinicians other than physicians.