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Patient-side guide to emergency care
  1. Robert Goggs

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Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Procedures, 2nd edn Timothy B. Hackett, and Elisa M. Mazzaferro 288 pages, paperback, £37.99. Wiley-Blackwell. 2012 ISBN 978 1 470 95855 1

HAVE you found yourself in a situation where management of your patient necessitates a procedure you have little experience of? This scenario will face most of us during our veterinary careers and can be daunting, particularly for recent graduates. The second edition of ‘Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Procedures’ aims to address this issue by providing ‘clear step-by-step photos of emergency procedures that can be used to save lives’.

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This soft-cover, spiral-bound book contains 288 pages of annotated colour images that provide a visual ‘how-to’ guide for emergency procedures. The spiral binding may reduce durability, but keeps costs down. In the previous edition, the images were black and white, which made identification of parts of some images difficult. The move to full colour is welcome and substantially improves the usability of this guide. In addition, the book also provides access to online movie clips, which augment the still images to aid the learning process. The images are the book's greatest strength and provide sufficient detail to guide the user through each procedure. In various sections, the colour images are supplemented by radiographs, charts or illustrations using anatomical models to aid understanding of the procedure described.

The book is divided into 10 sections, covering a broad range of procedures including placement of a variety of tubes and catheters, vascular access techniques, monitoring systems and the provision of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Some of the techniques illustrated such as cephalic catheter placement are commonplace and their inclusion may be of limited value. Other chapters cover more advanced or invasive procedures including surgical jejunostomy tube placement and open-chest CPR aimed at more experienced clinicians. The book is not exhaustive, but does cover important emergency and critical skills such as Seldinger catheter placement and pericardiocentesis, for which photographic illustration is much more useful than a written description. In some sections different techniques for the same procedure are presented sequentially, which may be confusing at first. As with all textbooks there is a risk that some information may be outdated even when first published, as is the case with the CPR section following recent publication of veterinary CPR guidelines (

The text in the book is minimal. There is sufficient information to describe or explain the images, outline the necessary supplies and highlight the indications and risks associated with the procedures, but no more. The book is designed to be a practical, patient-side guide, rather than a definitive text. As such, studying it with another textbook to provide more background might be sensible. Readers should be aware that this book is US-centric, which may mean certain solutions, catheters or products described are not available in the UK.

Overall, I think the book will be most useful for veterinary technicians, students and veterinarians entering the emergency field for the first time. It is not pocket-sized, but is small enough to keep to hand for a quick recap. Ultimately, although this book might not be read frequently, it may prove invaluable as a reference guide in an emergency situation.

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