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Chief complaints in pediatrics
  1. E Posner

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    Edited by Theodore C Sectish. PocketMedicine.com, 2002, US$50.00. Buy from: http://www.skyscape.com. Memory requirements: for palm 0.4 MB, for Pocket PC 0.8 MB:

    Have you ever wondered, looking at Wisteria, if the plant in front of you is right or left winded? Do you know how to tell? Once you know, it is easy. It is just the same with this publication. This is not a book, not even an eBook. Chief complaints in pediatrics is software. It is worth clarifying this right at the start, as there are some practical consequences to this. After installation you will find its icon in the list of programs. If you simply follow the prompts, it will install itself to the main memory. If you then realise that you want to have it on your memory card you will have to go through uninstall and install (to the chosen location) procedure. As this is not a book, there are no numbered pages.

    The interface is easy and intuitive, you will be able to do it all without looking into Help. The same unified interface can be found on all Skyscape products; if you have used Archimedes, a popular free program that works like an extended medical calculator, you will find the familiar interface of Skyscape in this program. Chief complaints in pediatrics comes with an internal link to other Skyscape products that are already installed on your PDA.

    The display is tidy: menu choices on the top, along the right side, and on the bottom of the screen, and text in the middle. The icons on the top are for the previously viewed page, main index, table of contents (with alphabetical list of topics), history (analogous to the same feature in Internet Explorer), links (to other Skyscape products on your device), and toggling arrows. There are also arrows to navigate back and forward within the text of the program, and a little pen which is an icon to tap if you want to add notes to the topic (and this includes the option of voice note). The menu at the bottom of the page is to edit (make annotation and bookmarks), view (change font size and access the Main Index), tools, and help. A pleasant feature of this software is the use of colours. There is a free trial download. This will allow you to assess if you like the interface and how the program works. It does not allow access to all of the topics, so you cannot make a judgement if the content is as rich as you would like it. For the list of topics see the “learning and demos” manual on the Skyscape website.

    The content of Chief complaints in pediatrics is organised so as to be useful to a clinician presented with a diagnostic puzzle. The table of contents takes us to a long (over 150) list of topics arranged in alphabetical order in the Main Index. All topics are “complaints”: symptoms, signs, or laboratory findings. Information about each topic is grouped under the following headings: description and definition, history of the present illness, past medical history and family history, physical examination, differential diagnosis (most common and then expanded), and the next steps in the work up. True to its title, Chief complaints in pediatrics deals with the common problems. It will be most useful as a quick look up tool when deciding on differential diagnosis and on what investigation could be done. The program is designed as a diagnostic aid and does not contain any information about treatment or prognosis.

    In summary: the program works really well, is easy to use, and very functional. My only reservation is that many paediatricians would find it too basic in content. For a trainee it seems a good investment.

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