Current Consult Medicine 2005, by Maxine A. Papadakis and Stephen J. McPhee, ISBN: 0071413278

Reviewed by: Dr. Angelica Fargas-Babjak MD, FRCPC, CAFCI, Dec 2005
Published by: McGraw-Hill Professional
Requires: N/A, Palm OS and Pocket PC versions available
MSRP: $59.95

Current Consult Medicine 2005 is a solution for any busy physician’s office, medical clinic and hospital ward. It provides a ready reference source of immediate, authoritative answers to challenging problems that may arise while dealing with patients. The book has two-page spreads for each disease or disorder, including thorough coverage of eighty five conditions most commonly encountered in clinical practice. All of the entries are organized in alphabetical order. Differential diagnosis and treatment options are described for each condition. Diagnostic steps including laboratory tests and imaging studies are suggested for each condition where appropriate. The diagnostic decisions are up to date with current practice guidelines. For conclusions of more serious conditions, the book provides a list of complications, prognosis, patient information and references to web information. Specific lists of drug regimens are included.

Medicine is an ever-changing science. As well, new science, clinical experience and treatment options are expanding and evolving daily. Medical practitioners need to keep abreast of these changes and must always seek out reliable sources for all of the new information. Current Consult Medicine 2005 fulfills these requirements at this time and thus it is highly recommended. Note that Current Consult Medicine 2006 may be available as of the publication date of this review (December 2005) but the publisher was unable to supply an early review copy. Note that Current Consult Medicine 2005 & 2006 versions are also available in Palm OS digital format, which appears to work best with high-resolution PDA screens in consideration of the large amount of data referenced for each condition. The PDA versions are priced the same as the printed book.

We checked the authors' credentials and found a wealth of good information. Dr. Maxine Papadakis is professor of clinical medicine as well as associate dean for student affairs at University of California San Francisco (UCSF). The Student Affairs Office coordinates program and support services for students such as the Student Well Being Program and the Advisory College Program and Student Affairs plan important events such as the White Coat Ceremony and graduation. A recipient of many teaching awards, Dr. Papadakis has been deeply involved in teaching both undergraduate medical students and residents for many years. The Student Well Being Program, of critical importance to students, has been significantly strengthened and expanded since Dr. Papadakis became associate dean. An active clinician who is based at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dr. Papadakis received her B.A. from Stanford University and her M.D. from the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine. She has been a member of the UCSF faculty since 1980. Dr. Stephen J. McPhee, MD is Professor of Medicine UCSF. He has published or contributed to over 50 authoritative medical books. His education includes Yale College, New Haven, CT summa cum laude, with Honors in Philosophy, B.S., 1973, Philosophy and Literature , and John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, M.D., 1976, Medicine.

If you're a doctor reading this review, you may want to know something about the reviewer. Dr. Angelica Fargas-Babjak, Program Chair - McMaster Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Education, is a Professor in the Department of Anesthesia at McMaster University, Director of the Acupuncture/Pain Clinic since 1984 at Hamilton Health Sciences and the Program Chair of the Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Education Programs at McMaster University. She was President of the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada from 1996-99. Dr. Fargas-Babjak’s expertise in non-pharmacological pain management has made her a sought after lecturer and teacher both in Canada and internationally.

Cons: There are none, but it should be noted that every text of this type should always be used in conjunction with consultative discussions among medical staff and peers. Rapid, positive concensus is often the best way to achieve the most accurate diagnosis.

Pros: As a standalone tool for isolated private practices, the book remains a valuable tool in its first edition. As of this writing, the 2006 edition has been announced and will be available in four formats: print, Palm OS, Pocket PC and web/online. That variety of formats should provide access to the book's valuable diagnostic information to almost everyone in practice. Quick advice on when to admit and when to refer, though it may not apply to all physicians, is included in the form of a guideline. Reference tables found in the last 150 pages are an excellent source of detailed information. As a general diagnostic reference for emergency rooms and clinics, the book in extremely valuable. Of course the vast majority of medical professionals will continue to rely on their years of training and experience, but in situations where consultative staff are simpy not available, the book will again remain a valuable reference. Medicine is ever-changing science. New science, clinical experience and treatment options are expanding daily. We need to keep abreast of these changes and have reliable sources of new information. This book fulfills these requirements at this time. Highly recommended.

(Ed. Note: For readers who are not part of the medical community it's important to remember that diagnosis and directed treatment remain two of the bulwarks of general and specialty medical practice. With the preponderance of public clinics springing up in the U.S. in the face of high medical insurance costs, with the preponderance of public clinics springing up in Canada in response to a shortfall of neighborhood GPs and small town practices, some analysts believe that traditional diagnostic skills—owned by practiced GPs who regularly see everything in their communities and know their patients well—are on the wane in some quarters. Patients who see a doctor for the first time in the assembly line environment of a busy neighborhood or regional clinic are often engaging in a relationship based on the patient's hope that the doctor is experienced enough, and the doctor's hope that the patient doesn't present with symptoms that are out of the ordinary. It follows that in many parts of North America, the patients served best are often those with greatest access, through various specialists, to the latest medical diagnostic hardware. As far as we're concerned therefore, every single additional diagnostic tool available to GPs, including this book, is a mark in their favor).

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