Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review: Medical School for Everyone: Emergency Medicine

I picked up Medical School for Everyone: Emergency Medicine thinking that it'll be a boring litany of cases of what you need to go to the emergency room is for. I was wrong. This course (I'm tempted to say "show") is an exciting, fun, and informative series of case studies that are fast paced, interesting, and way more fun than real medical school would be, since you wouldn't have to suffer sleep deprivation to go through it.

The first couple of episodes cover some basic things: triage (or why you have to wait so darn long to be seen when you visit the ER --- and why you do not want to be the person who skips over everyone else to be seen first!), how emergency responders work. Then the course goes into how to do diagnosis, from the initial ABCs (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation, then Disability and Exposure) and the OLD CARTS rule (Onset, Location, Duration, Character, Aggrevating factors, Relieving factors, Timing and Severity).

Every episode contains a bunch of case studies, each of which is a patient, some of which are modeled on famous outbreaks. You're then challenged to provide a diagnosis (and yes, all the clues are fair, so when you do get one there's a very strong sense of satisfaction!) and then the lecturer provides the outcome. It's all told in second person, choose-your-own-adventure style and I guarantee it provides intellectual challenge and interest. In some cases, he even interrupts your thinking with another patient that's come in and triaged ahead of the current case, which is very realistic, and then you'll have to return to the previous patient later, providing added mental challenge.

Not all of the problems are completely medical in nature. In a number of cases, sociological factors come into play. This truly is a comprehensive array of interesting cases. If I'd audited this series when growing up I might have decided that being an ER doctor would be a lot of fun (or maybe not, Dr. Benaroch doesn't shy away from the massive amount of blood and trauma he has had to deal with, and the occasional patient who doesn't survive the ER visit, despite doing everything right). In any case, I think it presents a fair, undramatic portrayal of how an ER doctor's day goes --- many of the diagnosis are only arrived upon after calm thinking, listening and reflection, and the tests are only there to confirm the diagnosis.

The series closes with an exploration of some practical issues: what cases are worth going to the ER for, and what cases aren't. When should you treat a fever, and when is a fever actually helpful? What should you do before traveling to a foreign country? This advise is good and also illustrated by case studies that amplify the point.

Needless to say, this audio book comes highly recommended, and is well worth your time. Highly recommended, especially if you have accident prone kids who have to visit the ER often.

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