Key Facts in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care,3rd edition
G. R. Park, A. S. Gomez
Greenwich Medical Media: London, UK, 2003, 56 pp
ISBN: 1-84110-175-3; Price £12.50
I have never been sure of the value of 'pocket-sized' books in anaesthesia and intensive care. The emergent nature of our work means that the retrieval of important facts in a crisis is achieved more effectively by having committed the facts to memory in the first instance, than by hasty referral to a guidebook. Furthermore, there are obvious practical problems: scrub suits have very small pockets (if any), and deep-pocketed white coats are discouraged on intensive care units for reasons of hygiene.
Regardless of format, however, anaesthetic vade meca are of value in clinical practice, providing a one-stop source of facts, figures and protocols. For a book of this kind to be of greatest value, however, it needs to be both comprehensive and accessible, and I am not really certain that either of these characteristics apply. The pocket-sized format of the book has limited the amount of facts that can be contained therein. For example, algorithms for the management of non-arrest cardiac dysrhythmia have been converted to text, making them less user-friendly. The book does not have an index, rather a list of contents, which renders it less accessible in an emergency.
Nevertheless, there is a large amount of information packed into this small book, and the facts contained are those that the practising anaesthetist/intensivist needs to know and use on a regular basis. A useful addition to the departmental library, then, but the authors might do well to consider a change of format for any future edition.
S. M. White