Description: This new textbook provides essential information on the evaluation and management of asthma and emphasizes the need for shared care between primary care physicians and hospital specialists. The authors, all British, have credibility in discussing asthma and promoting shared care, as one is a primary care physician, two are respiratory specialists, and two are pharmacologists.
Purpose: The information on asthma is written for all primary care physicians, although the drugs discussed differ slightly from the ones we use in the U.S. The section on shared care is directed to British primary care physicians who transfer patients to the care of hospital-based specialists for hospitalization. Most American primary care physicians actively care for asthma patients in the hospital and may not consider the section on shared care to be relevant.
Audience: Primary care providers are the intended audience.
Features: This book is a good pocket-sized resource on asthma. The charts and tables are helpful, although readers may find the cartoon illustrations distracting. The references are current and from appropriate journals. The unique feature is the promotion of shared care between primary care physicians and hospital-based physicians. The authors introduce standardized forms to evaluate asthma patients in the outpatient setting, the emergency room, and the hospital to facilitate communication between physicians. They give examples of informative referral letters for hospitalization and hospital discharge summaries. They remind us that patient education is essential for improving care.
Assessment: Who should purchase this book? Most physicians will be able to find needed information on asthma in textbooks of medicine or in the "Expert Panel Report 2, Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma" (1997), freely accessible from the National Institutes of Health web-site. Beneficiaries of this book are physicians who refer asthma patients to hospital-based physicians for hospitalization. In addition, interested physicians and students will appreciate the instructive case studies.