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By Tim Hodgetts and Nick Castle. (Pp 116; £13.95.) BMJ Publishing Group, 1999. ISBN 0-7279-1371-9.
Very few medical books claim to be “designed to make learning fun”— most seem to have been designed to make sleeping easy. As a result any book making such claims might benefit from readers' previous experience and low expectations. Resuscitation Rules achieves its authors' intentions with a little to spare. The approach is that of an ALS instructor: friendly and non-threatening but intent on getting the information over.
The “rules” are 60 phrases, covering basic life support, advanced life support, medical emergencies and paediatric resuscitation. Each rule has up to two small pages of text and accompanying references providing the evidence for the rule. The determination of the authors to present the evidence for each rule is both a strength and a weakness. Firm believers in evidence-based medicine will warm to this, but sceptics may be put off. At times the tone becomes rather po-faced, however any reader wanting to investigate further has an easy starting point.
Resuscitation Rules is the successor to Trauma Rules1 and follows the same format. While almost all of the latter's rules come across naturally, a number in the new book seem forced. The text is easy to read and the rules well argued. The book is ideal for reading in a spare 10 minutes or in short bursts covering three or four rules at a time.
This book is not suitable for newcomers to emergency medicine and the resuscitation room, nor is it aimed at them. The reader must have a reasonable level of knowledge at the start, to appreciate the reason for a rule's existence, and although a lot of basic information is present, it is not in an order easily accessible to the novice. This is clear from the authors' foreword but not from the blurb on the back of the book. This is presumably a ploy on the part of the publishers to increase sales. The experienced reader will find their memories jogged and may be stimulated into more in depth reading. The group that will find the book of most use are teachers and instructors. Many of the rules can be worked into teaching sessions as memory hooks for the students, and the answer to the “awkward question”, as well as the evidence, may be within.