Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Book: Pocket Prescriber 2010

December 2nd, 2009 No comments

Pocket Prescriber 2010

I kind of stumbled across this little book recently. So far, I quite like it. If you use the BNF regularly, you can probably get a bit of help out of this little gem. It aims to give the reader a quick snapshot of what you actually need to know about a drug.

Unlike with the BNF where you need to find the drug then find the drug’s parent to read about cautions. Then you need to search through an appendix or two to find the possible interactions. This book takes the commonly prescribed drugs (I haven’t found any particular omission yet, common and not so much) and tells you everything all at once. This includes what the drug does, when to use it, when not to use it, what to be careful of, what to tell the patient and how much to prescribe. For certain drugs there is a fairly noticeable extra bit where something important needs mentioning. This continues in a helpful A-Z fashion for 160 or so pages.

Following this is a useful chapter on the rationale behind selecting certain drugs. Covering topics from antibiotics to antidepressants. There is the potential for a lot of time saved here. Ok, so it’s never going to match ever local policy but you won’t find it in the BNF at all! Plus, compared to our local Therapeutics manual – this thing doesn’t need a backpack to carry it.

With still a few more sections to go, the next is on areas often considered difficult to prescribe. Insulin, anticoagulants and thrombolytics make up the majority of this section. All the advice is evidence based and articles are fully referenced for the background reading if required.

Almost there, but not quite. Next is an appropriately named Miscellaneous chapter covering everything from common side effects to the use of intravenous fluids. Also sneaked into the end of that chapter is a discussion on the all important CYP450. This is an easily accessible version of important pharmacology which otherwise would probably require a textbook. Useful for the (heh) quiet times when a bit of revision can be squashed in.

Better still though is the final chapter – medical emergencies. The focus is on the immediate recognition and management. I would hate the thought someone would quickly be consulting this text in such a situation but it no doubt happens. Personally I aim to learn this chapter before I graduate…we’ll see how that goes. Just in case though, the front and back inside covers fold out to reveal ALS algorithms as well as the NICE guidelines for TIA and stroke.

My only real complaint about this book would be the extreme use of abbreviations. I appreciate they’ve tried to keep the text small – successfully, it’s tiny! – but there were at least a few that threw me for a minute. Nevertheless, it’s a great book – although probably more so for junior doctors than students. However, if you know anyone studying for finals, Christmas present?

Categories: Review Tags: ,

Clinical examination – what book?

April 30th, 2009 3 comments

Clinical examination is an important part of being a medical student, particularly from year 3 onwards in the UK. As everything medical students do requires a bookshelf to itself, clinical examination is no different. Back in first year I fell victim of my own advice:

Wait until you know which book you need and like before buying any

I say this many times to prospective medical students, it saves both money (quite important!) and wasted space. However, being only a 1st year, I took the advice of my tutor and ran out to buy Macleod’s Clinical Examination, It’s a popular book, no doubt about that. Mention it to most medical students or doctors and they’ll generally nod approvingly. There is a new edition due out in June (on my brother’s birthday, possible present? probably not) which will no doubt be just as popular. Anyone who wants to go buy a copy would probably be best waiting until the new version. I say this not only to gain the benefits of whatever the refresh will contain but also because Student Consult becomes unusable after an update is published.

I kept my Macleod’s happy on my bookshelf for the better part of 2 years. Recently, however, I noticed something funny – I hardly used it. In fact, I was using it less than I was using a similar book from the library. Which book? This one:

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Examination and Practical Skills

oxpracIt’s a great book. Instead of aimless rambling that I found prevalent in Macleod’s this book is very focused to the detail required. Don’t think this is lacking some of the basics either – each chapter begins with relevant anatomy and physiology which is a very useful summary. I have found things explained here which would take much searching in Macleod’s or that aren’t even there to begin with.

The book is part of the Oxford Handbook Series (like the cheese and onion) and will therefore be familiar to the majority of students. Being a handbook is particularly useful and means it’ll fit in most pockets without trouble.

Still, one of the best features has to be the latter part of the title. Practical skills include everything from hand washing and cannulation to pericardial aspiration and airway management. This is interesting for me but surely could be extremely useful for junior doctors. Don’t try looking for anything like this in Macleod’s, by the way.

To finish of this excellent piece of work, Thomas and Monaghan have included a chapter on interpretation – going through most of radiology, clinical chemistry and not forgetting the dreaded ECGs.

The book is relatively new (May 07) and so far seems pretty scarce. For Glasgow students there are only 2 across campus at time of writing (and none in the SL!). If you can track it down though, give it a glance and see what you think. Not all books are for everyone though, so don’t forget my original advice.


I don’t get any commisson from this book, by the way, despite what it sounds like above. I also don’t get anything from the Amazon links.


In the end – I sold my Macleod’s.

Categories: Medical, Review Tags: , ,

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