Scott's Spiel

Book Review: Pocket Prescriber 2010

Recently, I stumbled upon a little gem of a book - the "Pocket Prescriber 2010." And so far, I'm rather impressed. If you're a regular user of the British National Formulary (BNF), you might find this pocket-sized companion quite handy. It's designed to provide readers with a quick snapshot of everything you need to know about a drug.

Unlike the BNF, where you often need to navigate through multiple sections to gather information on a single drug - searching for cautions, interactions, and dosages - this book streamlines the process. It focuses on commonly prescribed drugs (and some less common ones) and delivers all the essential details in one concise package. This includes what the drug is used for, when to prescribe it, when not to prescribe it, precautions to take, patient advice, and dosage recommendations. For certain drugs, there are additional notes when something particularly important needs to be highlighted. This format continues in a user-friendly A-Z fashion for about 160 pages.

Following this, you'll find a valuable chapter explaining the rationale behind selecting specific drugs. It covers a range of topics, from antibiotics to antidepressants. While it might not replace your local policy entirely, it can certainly save you time, and you'll find information here that you won't locate in the BNF. Plus, unlike our hefty local Therapeutics manual, this book won't require a backpack to carry around.

There are a few more sections to explore. The next one delves into areas often considered challenging to prescribe, such as insulin, anticoagulants, and thrombolytics. All the advice here is evidence-based, and the articles are fully referenced if you want to dive into the background reading.

We're almost at the end, but not quite. There's a fittingly named Miscellaneous chapter covering everything from common side effects to the use of intravenous fluids. Tucked away in this chapter is a discussion on the crucial CYP450 system, providing easily accessible pharmacology information that would typically require a textbook. It's a handy resource for those quiet moments when you have a bit of revision to squeeze in.

But perhaps the best part is the final chapter - medical emergencies. It's focused on immediate recognition and management. Ideally, you wouldn't want someone consulting this book in a high-pressure emergency situation, but it happens. Personally, I'm aiming to commit this chapter to memory before I graduate - we'll see how that goes. Just in case, the front and back inside covers fold out to reveal Advanced Life Support (ALS) algorithms and the NICE guidelines for transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke.

My only real gripe with this book is the excessive use of abbreviations. I understand the need to keep the text small (and they've succeeded - it's tiny!), but some of the abbreviations can be a bit confusing. Nonetheless, it's a fantastic book, though perhaps more suited for junior doctors than students. However, if you know anyone preparing for finals, this could make an excellent Christmas present.