C Evans, A Creaton, M Kennedy and T Martin (Editors).
First Edition, 2017
Oxford University Press
Paperback, 684 pages
Independent Review by Stephen Warrillow
The first edition of Retrieval Medicine marks a further advance in the maturation of this complex speciality that combines critical care expertise, logistics, problem solving and team-based practice. Edited by recognised experts in the field, this convenient pocket-sized handbook provides a succinct distillation of knowledge provided mainly by Australian contributors.
At 684 pages, the handbook is an ambitious attempt to cover a great deal of content. The initial section provides a solid background on the development, structure, implementation, governance and resourcing of retrieval services. Following from this is a short review of the retrieval environment (including some fundamental aviation medicine), equipment basics and a discussion of ‘human factors’, including crisis resource management. Over the next several chapters, key concepts relating to respiratory support, circulatory compromise, sepsis and neurocritical care are outlined. Adult retrieval practice is rounded out with chapters on obstetric emergencies, mental health care, management of bariatric patients and trauma. A brief review of primary retrieval practice addresses fundamental issues that face members of first responder teams. Paediatric retrieval practice is well-served by a fairly comprehensive outline of key conditions and practical advice that would be especially helpful to clinicians who infrequently manage this patient group. After a short review of specialist (e.g. disaster and military) retrieval systems, a selection of useful checklists is provided, along with suggested further reading.
Despite the breadth of content, this little book is quite readable and provides a problem focussed guide to many of the major challenges encountered by clinicians working in this dynamic environment. The tips, suggestions and strategies provided are pragmatic and applicable to ‘real-world’ situations. The checklists are a useful addition and could certainly used as a guide to develop or evaluate locally appropriate documents. Important areas are well-covered and in particular, cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological problems and trauma are addressed in detail. Given that this chosen format is a hand-book style, some aspects of critical care medicine receive less emphasis and it might be hoped that a future edition expands to include topics such as gastrointestinal emergencies, endocrine crises and toxicology. The paediatric chapters include some fairly advanced and specialised detail that is perhaps beyond the need of many clinicians who mainly focus on care of adults and might be more appropriate for a publication dedicated to this patient group.
Overall, this is an extremely valuable resource for any clinician embarking on a stint of retrieval work. While a clear Australasian focus is evident, the content is sufficiently generic to be readily applicable to any world region. Knowledge is organised and presented in a clear and efficient manner, with crucial details emphasised throughout. The publication would be enhanced further by the use of colour codes and diagrams, as well as a larger text size; this is not a book to read in the dim lighting of retrieval vehicle in motion. Ideally, a companion app for smart phones or similar would be an excellent way to make the content accessible to clinicians in the field and may represent a highly desirable strategy for similar publications in future.
Retrieval Medicine is a very useful guide to the speciality and is recommended reading for senior clinicians and trainees undertaking work as retrieval physicians. While much of the content may be available from a variety of other sources, Retrieval Medicine does a good job of bringing much of the core knowledge required for effective patient care during a retrieval into a single convenient book.
This is not a promotional post and ICN was not paid to provide this review.
The textbook is available here.