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Can J Hosp Pharm. 2009 May-Jun; 62(3): 253.
PMCID: PMC2826948

Emergency Management of Infectious Diseases

Reviewed by Deana M Sabuda, BSc, BSP, ACPR

R L Chin, editor. , editor.  Cambridge University Press,  New York,  2008. Hardcover,  557 pages. ISBN  978-0-521-87176-1.  US$95. 

Emergency Management of Infectious Diseases offers a concise overview of a wide spectrum of infectious diseases. Pharmacists in general practice will appreciate its abridged coverage of this topic. Most of the clinical chapters are short (2–5 pages) and pragmatic. Remarkably, the chapter on infective endocarditis accurately distills the information to just 4 pages, a welcome relief compared with the complicated guidelines that exist. Major sections of the book include Systems, Pediatrics, Special Populations, Current Topics, Overview of Antibiotics, Microbiology Laboratory Tests, and Infection Control Precautions. Those who are pressed for time and those who want to reflect on their learning will value the bulleted list entitled “Pearls and Pitfalls” that ends each chapter.

The book is not meant to be an authoritative tome on infectious diseases, and you will not find detailed footnotes to the text. Rather, each chapter has a reference list of reasonable length. Most of the chapter authors have included important citations from high-quality clinical journals, but a few have listed lengthy website URLs, which are prone to inaccuracy. Some authors have included a list of suggested additional readings. The editor is a medical doctor, and indeed the book is written for diagnosticians such as emergency physicians. The 81 contributors are mostly physicians from California, and several have graduate degrees in public health. Two pharmacists authored the 18-page “Antimicrobial Overview”, which is exceptionally well written and clinically relevant.

The layout of the book is visually appealing. The horizontal edge of each page is labelled with the chapter title and a modern coloured panel. The user-friendly index includes the generic names of drugs as well as the US trade names. Because of the time lag inherent in book publishing, there is no mention of doripenem, a new carbapenem that was approved in the United States in October 2007. Although an e-book version of this text has been created, it was not available for review.

The book has many useful colour images of infectious diseases, usually absent from pharmacy texts. Photos showing the appearance of blepharitis or chicken pox might be useful for new practitioners and those on the front lines of health care, including community pharmacists. The text also has many diagnostic tables and treatment charts; these are sometimes distracting and will probably not be as valuable for pharmacists. Lab values are presented in non-SI units, and the book lists antibiotics that are not available in Canada, such as nafcillin and amoxicillin–sulbactam. Most pharmacists will rightly look to more local treatment guidelines whenever possible. For example, this volume does not suggest extended-interval aminoglycosides as single empiric therapy for uncomplicated pyelonephritis, a reasonable recommendation that is used in some Canadian hospitals. The well-known and influential Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is referenced throughout.

As might be expected from the title, pharmacists practising in the emergency department or other urgent care settings will find this book most useful. In particular, the section on special populations will be invaluable. It contains chapters on bites, lice, fever after transplantation, and other topics that frequently arise in emergent care situations. We can hope that the sections on bioterrorism and emerging infections (such as SARS and avian influenza) will be needed only rarely, if at all, but they offer a starting point if such anxiety-charged situations do arise. New pharmacists working in outpatient infectious diseases clinics can learn from this book, especially by reading the chapters on dental and orthopedic infections.

The authors and editor set out to produce a practical, clinically oriented, systems-based overview of infectious diseases, with an emphasis on emergent diagnosis and treatment. They have succeeded.

Articles from The Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy are provided here courtesy of Canadian Society Of Hospital Pharmacists