on 11 February 2016
I received this title whilst a medical student to review for the publisher and complete this review now as a junior doctor.
It is my opinion that the title of this book is in some ways misleading as when I received this title it did not have the content within it that I expected from a title of ‘data interpretation’. Rather this title is focused upon taking you through a vast array of different clinical specialties and then giving you the common indications for undertaking specialist tests, for example; it goes through the advantages & disadvantages of exercise tolerance testing and when to use it, it explains how to risk stratify PE with the Well’s score and when each of the different radiological imaging options are most appropriate.
In this regard, this title is highly useful as an addition to your library and to take around with you, my only disadvantage that I have found in regards to this title is that I would have liked to have seen the addition of a website that would allow the reader to view many of the common radiological images or for example pulmonary function testing results in order to better familiarise oneself with these as the title is naturally not able to contain all of these.
In conclusion if you are looking to increase your familiarity with the different scoring systems and investigations that are available in clinical practice then this title is well worth utilising be it in purchasing it for yourself or borrowing it from your hospital/university library.
Competing Interests: Junior Doctor Book Reviewer - I received this title for free from the publisher whilst a Medical Student in order to review
on 25 January 2013
Whether as a medical student or junior doctor, clinical data is ubiquitous within medicine. The quantity of data that we are required to interpret can often make it seem as though we are in a race to the top of Everest - especially when a well-intentioned consultant thrusts an ECG in front of you and asks you to interpret it... There is nothing worse than being unable to interpret findings in an OSCE or whilst on whirlwind ward rounds. Conversely, being able to understand and use knowledge to interpret clinical information can be thoroughly rewarding. "The Hands-on Guide to Data Interpretation" is the perfect companion and tutor for all data interpretation needs.
The Hands-on Guide covers all the main laboratory, clinical and radiological tests used by doctors in the investigation and management of patients. The book is systems based and split into 16 chapters which include specific chapters on microbiology, genetics and imaging. Included at the start of the book is a comprehensive collection of reference ranges including those for hormones and tumour markers. There are also conversion tables for different units for those of us who can't remember how to change pounds into kilograms. The final chapter on patient data provides practical advice for clerking on the wards. This section places emphasis on the holistic care of patients and demonstrates how knowledge can be applied by bringing specialities together.
This 247 page handbook is highly visual and well laid out. It is concise but thorough. The authors have kept the student in mind throughout and have employed a variety of techniques to help make the contents digestible and memorable. Such techniques include the use of mnemonics, tables, graphs, flowcharts, diagrams and clinical images.
Mnemonics are used broadly throughout each chapter. They include widely used favourites such as GET SMASHED for the causes of Acute Pancreatitis. Arguably they are used a bit too extensively throughout the book. However, they act to support learning rather than standing as the sole method of learning. Despite their extensive use the layout of such mnemonics prevents them from becoming tedious.
Tables are frequently used by the authors to summarise information or to compare and contrast key pathologies. An example which I found particular useful was the comparison between Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis. The table was concise and provided more detail than was taught in lectures. The information was easy to retain and recall. I'm particularly fond of the table's ability to make me sound pseudo-intelligent on ward rounds!
Graphs are used to emphasise information covered in the text. They are well used throughout and include patterns such as flow-volume loops. Flowcharts are use similarly but also provide greater depth to the information in the text and are excellent in displaying quite complex conceptual data. Particularly useful is a detailed flow chart for adrenal steroid synthesis which all endocrinologists seem to have tattooed on their eyelids!
Diagrams are clear and well presented. The majority assist information in tables and the text. Such diagrams are utilised well in presenting dermatomes and myotomes in neurology which support textual information that describes distribution and action in more detail.
A unique selling point of this book is the helpful tip boxes which might not be found in a standard text. These handy tip boxes are found in every section and highlight salient points.
For a pocket-sized book the contents are particularly impressive. The authors always endeavour to explain key pathology and relate these to findings and patterns in data. Where appropriate, important elements of clinical examination are included, such as the cranial nerve examination. Chapters are further completed by severity scores such as the CURB-65 score for community acquired pneumonia and by risk assessment measures such as the Well's score for the probability of pulmonary emboli.
As alluded to earlier, like many others, I often struggle to understand ECGs. This book covers all the key principles of ECGs thoroughly and includes a simple but detailed 10 step guide to interpretation. There are enough examples to emphasise the points covered but perhaps not enough to become adept at pattern recognition. I similarly feel that examples of x-rays are limited. However, key pathological changes are all excellently described and accompanied by examples. It is also arguable that more examples might have hindered the book's usefulness as a pocket guide. In both incidences this book proves excellent as a revision tool but is not quite as useful when approaching these modalities for the first time. Other modalities are similarly explained in great detail but are lacking in examples.
A separate microbiology chapter is a real advantage of this book. The content is simple and understandable. Flowcharts describe gram staining and identification of bacteria whilst tables are used to cover the general sensitivities of bacteria to antibiotics. I was also particularly impressed by a table offering an introduction to oncological chemotherapeutics. The table succinctly classifies agents and states the most common side effects for each.
In conclusion "The Hands-on Guide" is very useful as an introductory text to data interpretation. However, the real strength of this book is apparent when the reader has some previous knowledge of the desired system or is using the book for revision. I feel that the book is an unmatched text in this respect and highly recommend it.