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  1. BOB PHILLIPS, Paediatric Senior House Officer

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    CliniCAL paediatrics. By McWilliams A, Wright IC. (Software; £110.) London: Hodder and Stoughton Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0 41282 170 2

    Computer aided learning could be everywhere: everyone has access to a computer (and some even carry them around with them) and uses them all the time. It hasn't taken off though, and this package, good as it is, won't be widely used.

    CliniCAL paediatrics is a lovely programme. The learner is taken through a series of patients' histories, and must make decisions on diagnostic, treatment, and prognostic aspects of the case. The layout is clear and easy to use. The illustrations in the imaging module are excellent.

    The major flaw is in the lack of guts to the package.

    Four areas are presented, with a heavy neonatal bias. There are six cases in each of the lung disease and bone disease modules, five chest imaging cases (I'd never heard the diagnosis of four of them before running this programme), and a single ethical case. I'm certainly not suggesting this package is a triumph of style over content. The content is good but skimpy. (Akin perhaps to wearing a fur coat and G-string rather than no knickers.)

    The stated aim of the package is “to make the DGH consultant paediatrician better at . . .”. It's good for an SHO to learn from, being used to didactic instruction and the partial use of the published literature to support clinical decisions. It may be quite annoying when one is more senior.

    A couple of very minor changes to the way the programme runs, and a massive expansion in the areas of medicine covered, would make this excellent. As it is, it's a good tutorial for select areas of neonatal medicine, but nothing more.

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