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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Valerie L. Ng, PhD MD(Alameda County Medical Center/Highland Hospital)
Description: This is the ninth edition of this venerable book. The previous edition was published in 2007.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a practical guide to effective use of the clinical laboratory (i.e., laboratory medicine).
Audience: It is intended for primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and medical and nursing students, but residents early in their laboratory medicine training also would find it useful, as would clinical laboratory scientists in training or practice.
Features: The major change in this edition is a reorganization of the material into two sections. The first section begins with a short introductory chapter followed by two chapters (486 pages) of laboratory tests — a comprehensive alphabetical list that defines the clinical utility of each test (i.e., in what clinical setting to order the test), discusses test result interpretation and test limitations, and occasionally provides references for additional reading. The next 12 chapters discuss organ systems and related laboratory tests. I found these chapters extraordinarily helpful in bridging the knowledge gaps between laboratory medicine and internal medicine specialties. This book also has an online option where users can readily access testing algorithms for real-time clinical decision-making or already formatted slides to accompany didactic lectures. A few very minor gripes: the introductory chapter is notable for factual statements without references; scattered typographical errors suggest incomplete proofreading (e.g., "JACK2" on p. 840); and there are unexplained references to terms not familiar to me (e.g., Ulysses syndrome on p. 8). The book could do without the bleeding times as well. The first edition was intended to be a handy pocket guide for harried, sleep-deprived interns and residents. This version is too big to fit into a lab coat pocket and the paperback covers will soon be lost with frequent use; the online version is thus that much more useful. Finally, the title has been formally changed to incorporate Dr. Wallach's name as a small measure of honor for his producing eight outstanding editions of this very useful book.
Assessment: This is a very useful book for those wanting a helpful, comprehensive guide to effective use of the clinical laboratory. Comparable clinically-oriented but smaller (fit in a pocket) and considerably less comprehensive books include Oxford Handbook of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation, 3rd edition, Provan (Oxford University Press, 2010), or Clinician's Guide to Laboratory Medicine: Pocket, 3rd edition, Desai (MD2B, 2009). Comparable books focused only on a comprehensive listing and a discussion of tests include Laboratory Test Handbook: Concise with Disease Index, 3rd edition, Jacobs et al. (Lexi-Comp, 2004 - now out of print), and Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th edition, Pagana and Pagana (Elsevier, 2010).