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Edited by H M Horst, R Karmy-Jones. (£15.95.) Manson Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-874545-863.
Seventy five years ago an American advertising executive wrote that “one picture is worth ten thousand words”. The aphorism holds particularly true for busy junior doctors preparing for examinations. This little book offers 150 pictures; clinical images, radiographs, tables of monitored data and diagrams to explain basic principles. The book is aimed at medical students, critical care trainees and surgeons in training. However, the topics covered are not exclusive to intensive care medicine and many conditions relevant to the emergency physician are included. Trauma, toxicology and resuscitation topics are among the 272 cases contributed by an international group of 50 intensivists.
The authors set out to assist the reader in understanding what they call “the science and Gestalt of critical care medicine”. I take this to mean that the clinical formulation should be determined by interpretation of available data in the appropriate context, taking account of any technical and other confounding variables. These aims are equally appropriate to emergency medicine but I'm not sure that they are achievable in a book of this size and type.
The format is a familiar one; questions are posed on one side of the page with answers and explanations overleaf. The quality of the images is above average and the subject matter is not overly esoteric. Answers are commendably brief and informative, allowing a wide range of material to be covered fairly quickly, though not in great depth.
Accessible is the best way to describe this book, light reading in quiet moments before postgraduate examinations in critical care, anaesthesia or accident and emergency medicine. When junior doctors wore white coats it would have been crammed into many a bulging pocket. Nowadays it will reside instead in numerous clinical areas or languish on a bedside table in the on call room. I recommend that if you come across it you should pick it up and have a read.