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WAO Medical Book Review

Posted: November 2010

Harrison’s Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
2010 McGraw-Hill
ISBN: 978-0-07-166337-3
Edited by Joseph Loscalzo

List Price: $74.95
Available from McGraw-Hill Professional

David J. Fitzhugh, MD
Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Department of Internal Medicine
University of South Florida
James A. Haley Veterans Hospital
Tampa, Florida USA

Harrison’s Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine is a single volume reference which incorporates the key pulmonary and critical care chapters found in the authoritative Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th edition.

This text provides a broad, scientifically current overview of the areas of pulmonary and critical care medicine in a concise and readable format which is appropriate for physicians-in-training as well as others.

Medical professionals at multiple levels, from the medical student to the practicing clinician, will benefit from this survey text. Physicians-in-training or those with a sound background in internal medicine will likely derive the greatest profit, as they already have adequate clinical exposure to place the scientific bases of the topics discussed in context.

The text is divided into 5 major sections, with each section comprised of multiple short (generally 8-10 pages) chapters. The first section is devoted to the diagnosis of respiratory disease, with a symptom-focused approach and attention to diagnostic procedures and imaging studies (including a very helpful atlas of chest imaging). The second section concentrates on individual respiratory diseases, covering the common infectious, atopic, genetic, and environmental lung disorders. The third moves to principles of critical care and mechanical ventilation, while the fourth describes the spectrum of critical care illness, including shock of various etiologies, ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), myocardial infarction, and neurologic critical care. The final section is devoted to conditions which complicate the management of critically ill patients, with particular focus on renal failure, acid-base derangements, and fluid disturbances. Finally, the authors include 114 self-assessment questions, which are furnished with detailed explanations.

The great strength of this text is that it provides a thorough overview of the spectrum of pulmonary and critical care medicine in an extremely accessible and readable format. Each chapter is generally quite brief, but delivers concise, clinically relevant information regarding disease pathogenesis, diagnosis, clinical presentation, and treatment. The text is complemented by numerous illustrative radiographic images, in addition to highlighted diagnostic and management algorithms in virtually every chapter. For a beginning trainee, this text delivers a focused survey of pulmonary and critical care medicine without oversimplifying a dauntingly complex field. For the more experienced physician, the text offers a comprehensive review of the most relevant subject matter in the field, with updates from recent scientific and clinical advances.