Book Review - Guide to the primary care guidelines

A summary of clinical guidelines is a useful resource, writes Dr Kamilla Porter.

GPs are confronted with an abundance of guidelines on aspects of primary care, and it can be quite a challenge to keep up. This book aims to provide a comprehensive overview of national guidelines.

The guidelines are listed in alphabetical order, making it a user-friendly A4-size manual that is light enough to be carried in a doctor's bag.

A title such as this can only include a selection of guidelines so inevitably some readers will be disappointed that topics have been missed. While all the clinical areas in this book are encountered in daily practice, some chapters had a lot of detail on areas that I found less useful.

For example, the chapter on coronary heart disease has four pages on the rationale behind drug therapy post MI. This could be more concise to make room for other areas, such as UTIs in children or guidance on patients taking long-term steroids in the section on osteoporosis.

However, as is made clear, this is not meant to be an encyclopedia of primary care guidelines, rather an account by an experienced GP of references he has collected to share with other practitioners.

I had not anticipated the illustrations accompanying many of the chapters. Like many GPs I often scribble diagrams on scrap pieces of paper to answer patients' questions, but I now have some far superior pictures to show, for example the diagrams explaining hiatus hernias and reflux, and the effects of asthma and antiasthmatic drugs on the airways.

Another very helpful inclusion is that of growth charts from birth up to 20 years old. With the rise of childhood obesity, recording a child's growth is important, so having these to hand is a real boon.

A practical manual
The downfall, as with any book on clinical guidelines, is that the material can soon go out of date.

It could be argued that much of this data is on the internet. While internet references are useful tools, there are infuriating moments when the computer goes down or trawling through the reams of NICE guidance is just too overwhelming.

Furthermore, this information has been sifted to outline the parts most relevant to primary care.

For those who like the reassurance of thumbing through a book I would definitely recommend Guide to the Primary Care Guidelines as a practical reference aid that can be dipped into during or after a surgery.

It would also be a useful revision aid for the nMRCGP.

  • Dr Porter is a sessional GP in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex Book giveaway

GP and Radcliffe Publishing are giving away five copies of Guide to the Primary Care Guidelines, edited by Dr Peter Smith, worth £24.95 each.

For a chance to win a copy, email with your name and address by 29 May 2009.

If you are unlucky in the book draw, then you can order a copy directly from Radcliffe Publishing at the price of £24.95.

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