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By P Rosen and R Barkin. (£199.75.) Mosby, November 1998. ISSN 0-323-00462-8.
Rosen's Emergency Medicine is the gold standard against which other textbooks in our specialty are compared. The current weighty and authoritative three volume, 3000 page text is now available as a single CD-ROM. The disk also contains three other Mosby products supplying prescribing information, drug interaction data, and patient handouts for prescribed drugs. These, however, will be of little interest to a UK audience.
Most readers will be familiar with the excellence of the content and comprehensive coverage provided by the printed text. It is particularly worth noting that this is the fourth edition of the text in the space of 16 years. This demonstrates not only the rapidly expanding nature of the specialty but a commitment by the editors to provide the clinician with up to date and relevant information. It is also noteworthy that this is a text written entirely by emergency physicians for emergency physicians. There are of course portions of the text that are specific to American practice but these do not detract from its value to a UK readership.
In this review I will largely deal with the way that the printed version has been translated into electronic format. Requirements for installation onto a PC are for a 486 running Windows 3.1 (or a more recent version) with 16 MB RAM and a minimum of 30 MB of hard disk space. Full installation to allow use of the program without the CD in the computer requires 150 MB of hard disk space. The electronic text runs within the internet browser Netscape Navigator (a copy of which is supplied). Installation was accomplished without problems in less than five minutes.
The browser allows the reader rapid access to the required information via hypertext links and the browser's search capability. All diagrams and illustrations are present as thumbnails, which can be enlarged and printed with excellent definition. Other functions allow regularly visited parts of the text to be saved and accessed rapidly. Text can also be copied to other Windows applications.
My only criticism is that the text box within the browser occupies less than half the screen, resulting in the need to scroll the text repeatedly or jump to and from figures and illustrations. This is, however, a minor problem. The printed version of Emergency Medicine is physically cumbersome but this CD-ROM makes the text accessible to the emergency physician on the “shop floor”. I would therefore recommend the CD-ROM as being essential to any accident and emergency department's electronic library.