Context and challenge are two features that make learning fun and more effective, which is why I have always preferred to learn through difficult case studies. I am always on the lookout for challenging case studies with detailed explanatory narratives, and so I came upon McGraw-Hill's Case Files Emergency Medicine app on iOS. Available for $29.99, it's a bit pricey as apps go, and offers no real discount compared with the paperback version.
The app itself is nicely designed, and has a simple and useful interface to browse cases randomly or by topic. Each case is followed by thought-provoking questions, answers, and then relatively detailed analyses, algorithms, pearls, and a quiz. The material seems perfect for first- and second-year emergency medicine residents, but probably a bit too basic for more seasoned attendings. Case studies include staples like acute coronary syndrome, DKA, febrile seizure, and pharyngitis. I picked up an interesting new pearl with every third case or so, but most ED attendings would find the work:reward ratio unsuitable.
To compound the high price and the low reward, many readers have noted an embarrassing number of typos and misspellings in the app and the original text. Check out the reviews for this app on the iOS App Store if you want to see something really fishy. A bunch of five-star reviews all originated within 48 hours of each other on the App Store with poor English syntax and spelling; hopefully they are not representative of emergency physicians' writing skills. We can also hope McGraw-Hill is spending its to create better content, not to buy five-star reviews.
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