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  1. M S H Madhava

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Edited by Lucy Osborn, Thomas DeWitt, Lewis First, Joseph Zenel. London: Elsevier Mosby, 2005, £76.00 (hardback), pp 2031. ISBN 0 323 01199 3

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There are hundreds of textbooks on paediatrics. When I heard of another textbook on paediatrics, the first question that came to my mind was—Do we need another textbook on paediatrics and how does this particular book differ from the rest of the books on the market?

To start with, the authors make it very clear that this book is directed towards the generalists and does not provide in-depth information into rare conditions. This reference was conceived in response to the need for a generalists’ text for paediatricians who have not narrowed their focus to a subspecialty of children’s care. It does not aim to be an exhaustive review, particularly of unusual or rare conditions, but rather a source of easily accessible information for clinicians who deal most frequently with common complaints and make decisions about when to refer and how to co-manage children with complex chronic diseases.

The most important attribute of the book is its format. The approach is problem based rather than as a narrative of conditions. For example, in the section on the cardiovascular system, the subheadings are: “Child with a murmur”, “Child with chest pain”, and so on.

So, unlike the other standard texts that are on the market which give the conditions first and then go onto explain the symptoms and their management, this text by Osborn et al starts with symptoms and then gives a structured approach to evaluate the symptoms.

The book is organised in a very friendly manner. It is divided into nine sections. The first two sections deal with fundamentals and health promotion. These sections are unique to this book and provide a good revision of the basics for the generalist.

The next section forms the core of the book. It is divided into organ systems, but the approach is problem based. The book does not provide exhaustive information, but acts as a guide.

For example, in the section ‘approach to child with headache’ the authors do not provide an exhaustive list of causes of headache and their treatment. They give only pointers. There are boxes highlighted with a red flag, which make sure that a generalist does not miss the salient points in history and examination.

Other than the core medical problems, the book also contains sections on adolescence care, mental health care, and social aspects of childcare. These sections are quite exhaustive. These chapters have been handled with a very practical approach.

Other important features of the book are that it is very colourful. All the sections are colour coded for easy access. The book is well illustrated. In particular, the chapter on skin conditions contain many photographs, which are very informative.

The book also comes with a CD-Rom. The CD is not the textbook in a digital format. The CD contains videos of clinical conditions, medical procedures, colour atlases of dermatological conditions, etc; all the tables and pictures on the CD are provided in a PowerPoint format that can be downloaded for educational use.

All in all, a very useful book to have as a part of the generalist’s library.

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