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Book club: your reviews

All posts from: April 2012

Legal Aspects of Nursing

27 April, 2012 Posted by: -


Title:Legal Aspects of Nursing  

Author:Bridgit Dimond

Publisher:Person Education Limited 6 Ed, 2011

Reviewer:Jane Brown, Patient Safety advisor, Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust

What was it like?

This book is a practitioner’s bible to all aspects of the law within healthcare.

I asked a group of nurses recently what legal aspects of nursing they were aware of, and the overriding majority was documentation and claims, but they were unaware of the whole process.

This edition is easy to read and understand, and is not too overwhelming or too heavy in law or jargon. It contains excellent sections with excellent real life case studies, and there will be at least one case study each nurse can relate to.

If you are looking for a subject they are easy to find as each chapter lists the topics that will be discussed, so the reader is not searching through the book endeavouring to find an important subject.

I was particularly concerned that obstetrics and midwifery should be included and was pleased to see that they are covered over several chapters.


What were the highlights? 

The book starts the nurse off by ensuring they understand how they can gain the most from the text, with a visual guided tour. So from page one the author immediately engages the reader. The author wants the nurse to ensure that she practises with legal awareness ensuring safety for herself and for the patients she is caring for.  

This is a complete package with access to the author’s MyLaw-Chamber website. What I particularly found invaluable was the legal newsfeed with the latest news articles.

This is the sixth edition and is up to date, including the NHSLA standards, Care Quality Commission, Coroners and Justice Act. It was ipressive how the new complaints system is being analysed along with the NHS quangos and their abolishment.

It is evident throughout the text that the author must have strong links with the nursing profession.

I was particularly impressed that safeguarding of children and the older adult was included.

Strengths and weaknesses?

I found only strengths within this book, from the guided tour at the onset, to real case studies and discussions with the reader. Chapter nine was of particular interest as this was the documentation and statement chapter. Nurses are often asked for a statement, but are invariably unsure what to include and this chapter sets it out in steps, it also includes what would be expected in a court of law or coroner’s court.

Every time I searched for a topical issue it was there which is not always evident in other books as it is not always possible to include. Dimond continues to strive to update the nurse in all aspects of legal issues.

Who should read it?

This book is for all grades of nurses including specialist nurses and managers. This would also be relevant to junior doctors who are often overwhelmed with policies and procedures when they commence a placement.

This edition needs to be on every clinical areas shelf, and as a manager, I would encourage this to be well thumbed.

This would be a good reference to use in the complaints and investigation process, reviewing the root causes, lessons learnt and compiling a robust action plan.


Understanding Crisis Therapies

24 April, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Understanding Crisis Therapies

Author: Hilda Loughran

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2011

Reviewer: Michaela McAndrew, community mental health nurse, South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust


What was it like?

This book does exactly what it says on the cover. It describes crisis intervention work from seven different theoretical viewpoints to give a well-rounded and informed understanding. The final chapter pulls these ideas together to present an integrative approach including lots of practical suggestions for use in assessment and delivering crisis interventions. It takes a positive approach to crisis work and states at the outset that it views it as an opportunity for change. Each chapter is well structured and outlines the way the theoretical perspective defines and understands crisis, how it is assessed and the way interventions are formulated. It is written in an accessible style and you do not need a prior knowledge of the theories explored to understand it. Every section of the book concludes with a case study, which is really useful in enabling the reader to apply theory to practice.


What were the highlights? 

The highlight for me was the positive way crisis work is represented. Often in mental health practice we see crisis work as a situation to be avoided if possible. To view it as an optimum time to effect change in a positive way was refreshing and has made me be more  thoughtful and less reactive in my approach

Strengths and weaknesses?

There are numerous strengths to this book.  The really clear language and wide range of perspectives represented were useful as so often books of this nature are written from one theoretical perspective and use jargon that requires a level of prior knowledge. I really enjoyed the clear structure that was repeated throughout the chapters and the use of the case studies was valuable. The main concepts of each theory are communicated clearly with lots of referencing and ideas for further reading. The only criticism I would make is that the chapter near the end about post-traumatic stress disorder felt a bit of an afterthought and didn’t really fit with the rest of the book.

Who should read it?

This book is written for mental health workers of all disciplines. It is relevant to mental health nurses,nursing students and applies to most settings. It does not require any prior knowledge but develops ideas to a level that will also be useful to experienced and well-read practitioners.

Evidence Informed Nursing with Older People

18 April, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Evidence Informed Nursing with Older People

Editors: Debbie Tolson, Joanne Booth and Irene Schofield

Publisher Wiley-Blackwell, 2011

Reviewer: Professor June Andrews, director, Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling


What was it like?

As a text for nursing students and qualified nurses, this seeks to make connections between theory, evidence and value-based “gerontological” practice.  The highlights of this book include chapters on specific problem-based areas. 

What were the highlights? 

The chapter on “Truth Telling and the Evidence” is riveting because it deals with the practical realities of telling the truth when working with older people and their families, particularly in residential care.  Telling the truth can contribute to the wellbeing of the patient, but not everyone wants to know everything, so how can you be sure  that what you are communicating is both honest and appropriate?  Irene Schofield’s chapter on delirium is a brilliant example of how you can outline a crucial nursing issue, and give some clear messages about what nurses can do to prevent it and to manage it. 

Strengths and weaknesses?

It is an excellent book and it seems a pity to point out areas that could be strengthened with hindsight.  On incontinence, more could have been said about design, perhaps, and in general, possibly a little more about dementia, but these are small issues in what is overall an excellent work. The sections on promoting physical activity, pain, healthcare associated infection and hearing problems are extremely useful. Definitely read about the “Senses Framework” in chapter three, for a really useful toolkit to capture a new way of thinking about care for older people.  The section on nutrition is really helpful. Even for a professor, the first one or two chapters on theory are a solid read, and so I’d recommend starting from four to 14, and then go back to the theory…you’ll see the point then, if you can hold your nerve and read it to the end. 

Who should read it?

 In my view, this is recommended reading for all staff working in care of older people, which is most of us.

Critical Care Nursing - Learning from Practice

18 April, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Critical Care Nursing - Learning from Practice

Edited by: Suzanne Bench and Kate Brown

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011

Reviewer: Rebecca Bailey-McHale, staff nurse, Department of Health, Isle of Man


What was it like?

Critical Care Nursing Learning from Practice is first and foremost an informative and interactive read. If you work in a critical care setting, are about to or merely have an interest in this area, this book will set you on your way. It consists of 17 hot topics in critical care ranging from the patient with severe sepsis, the patient with acute lung injury, to the patient requiring end-of-life-care. Every section skilfully and descriptively deconstructs the presenting problem and offers a journey of discovery through each topic. The 15 authors cleverly lead the reader through clinical scenarios. Each chapter begins with a short introduction, giving a brief definition of the problem discussed. This leads to the introduction of the patient’s story where the issue is put into context and you are given a patient to follow.  Each storyline offers full clinical presentation, including vital signs observations, blood test results and a systematic ABCDE approach to patient assessment. The reader is then given a number of identified activities that relate to the scenario, for example chapter 12 ‘the patient with raised intracranial pressure’, in which the reader is asked to identify the cause of the patient’s rapid neurological deterioration and what the implications may be. The chapter then offers related pathophysiological explanations that are pertinent to each case, giving not only a foundation understanding of what occurs and why but also presenting some indication of how each concern/observation may be managed. The icing on the cake is that each section is well supported and referenced, offering the reader further avenues to explore should they seek further clarification on their subject. 


What were the highlights? 

The book has an easy–to-follow format, is informative and follows a person-centred approach to each topic. There is a big focus on evidence-based care even offering a recommended reading list and including a critical appraisal of a relevant research paper in each chapter. 

Strengths and weaknesses?

There is a concise appendice, giving not only the frameworkused to critically appraise the research paper for each chapter, but also providing a brief synopsis of each paper. The index list is well constructed. The minor weakness of note is that in the clinical scenarios it is assumed that the reader is aware of the normative values of each test/observation. It would perhaps have been beneficial to include a brief guide to the normative values to refresh or update the readers’ knowledge in the appendice. 

Who should read it?

Anyone who currently works, or will be working, in critical care and any healthcare professional wishing to gain further knowledge in this area. Although the book may be a little too advanced for first year pre-registration student nurses, it may be of benefit to those in their second and third year. 

Matron on Call

16 April, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Matron on Call

Author: Joan Woodcock

Publisher: Headline Publishing Group 2012

Reviewer: Jenni Middleton, editor, Nursing Times

What was it like?

The nurse who started work in 1960s shares her stories – drawing together anecdotes from her time working in a busy Manchester hospital and collating them into one fictional nightshift, detailed hour by hour. It’s witty, sad, tragic and melancholy – but one can not fail to be impressed by the dedication and skill of the nurses at the heart of this book.


What were the highlights? 

The story is beautifully told – with real empathy and humour. The work really shows how important the relationship is between nurses battling a busy caseload, but also between all hospital staff – porters, consultants as well as the local police. There’s a real sense of camaraderie between the colleagues mentioned, and she paints a picture of what it’s like to work on new year’s eve that will be of interest to those who have done it, or those who have spent time in casualty on December 31.

I particularly enjoyed the funny stories of those who had indulged in too much alcohol on this night in question – and seeing how the nurses handled their sometimes bizarre requests.

Strengths and weaknesses?

The book is funny and will definitely strike a chord for those nurses who have worked in an A&E or a walk-in centre on new year’s eve. It tells the tales of a man who waited for hours just to request that his tattoo was removed, while cases of overdoses are also handled with sympathy and sincerity.

You can’t help but enjoy – hardworking, dedicated, caring and yet firm when patients try and steal or jump the queue. She’s an excellent role model for nurses.

Who should read it?

If you weren’t around in the 1960s, don’t be put off by the tagline on the cover – “more stories from a 1960s NHS nurse” because the book is very much based around the author’s account of one shift on new year’s eve in the 1980s. So if you’re a graduate of the 1960s or the 1980s or any time in-between or since, you’ll get something out of this book. It will be particularly of interest to those who have worked in A&E and walk-in centres – any nurse who has had to be public facing will raise a smile at the contents of this book.

It is Not Out of Reach: Your Stepping Stone to Success

4 April, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: It is Not Out of Reach: Your Stepping Stone to Success

Author: Christiana de-Sammy

Publisher: Sunflower Press, 2011

Reviewer: Jenni Middleton, editor, Nursing Times


What was it like?

I will be honest – I am a little sceptical of “life improvement books” so I approached this like a typically cynical journalist. Nevertheless, I have persevered with a few in my life, and always got something out of them so I was eager to open the pages. What was intriguing about this particular take on “how to discover your hidden formidable power” is that it is written by someone who has worked as a midwife and nurse, who has also cared for people palliatively. That makes it stand out from the usual fodder of motivational texts.

What were the highlights?

A lot of the seven chapters (or stepping stones as the author likes to call them) are reworks of the stuff you may find in other books of this nature – time management, loving yourself before you love others and finding happiness within. But there are a lot of practical how-to exercises that reinforce the messages being given. For example, in the time management section, you have to keep a log of your time and work out how you are spending your hours. In other chapters, you have to make a list of things you are grateful for every day or things you want to achieve, and a plan as to how you will get there. There’s nothing particularly new in this, but the pace of the book with tips, activities and summaries at the end of each chapter make it seem very achievable and practical.


Strengths and weaknesses?

There are some nice anecdotes about human beings who have overcome adversity with the strength of their minds and spirits. For example, it talks about how Victor Frankl survived the concentration camp by keeping other people’s spirits up, and explains how important it is to do things for others. It says that by believing you will escape a situation, you often make yourself achieve that. It also points to a French doctor working in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Emile Coue, who is said to have successfully treated patients with various conditions, including rheumatism and seemingly incurable tumours, by encouraging them to repeat the affirmation: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”

While those insights are valuable and interesting, I would have liked to have seen Ms de-Sammy pull more on her own life experiences of treating patients palliatively and give us some of her own experiences (without breaching patient confidentiality of course). There are a group of case studies at the end, but they lack the personal connection to her, which I would have loved to read about. Having talked about her career when introducing the book, I think more needs to be made of her nursing background.

The only other weakness is that this book is printed with a lot of different typefaces – as a magazine editor, that is a bit irritating – but if you like your texts to feel jaunty and informal, almost chatty, this is for you, and you’ll love it.

Who should read it?

Anyone who wants to improve their time management skills, learn to love themselves a bit more and how to be kinder to others. But leave your cynicism at the door and trade it for a pen and pad – there is a lot of activities to engage you in this book. I don’t think this book will change my life because a lot of the principles are elements of my life anyway – but I do think it may make you look at the world with a fresh pair of eyes, especially if you haven’t read one of these sorts of texts before. It’s positive and uplifting, and will make you feel a little less guilty every time you say no. Enjoy.

It Shouldn’t Happen to a Midwife

3 April, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: It Shouldn’t Happen to a Midwife

Author: Jane Yeadon

Publisher: Black & White Publishing 2012

Reviewer: Jenni Middleton, editor, Nursing Times


What was it like?

The novel relives the author’s experience of midwife training in Belfast during the “swinging sixties”. The story is told through Jane’s eyes, although she also introduces us to a colourful cast – a frosty matron, a strong-willed sister, a tedious professor and some less than empathetic medical students. Also along for the ride are her fellow midwifery students – the eternally shy Marie, strong-willed Margaret and proud Cynthia. The scrapes they get into during their classroom exploits and placements are poignant – looking after unmarried mothers, advising Catholics about birth control and trying to contend with breech births are some of the highlights.

What were the highlights?


There’s some lovely moments in the book – Jane looking after a patient in labour better than the medical student assigned to the birth; Margaret desperately trying to learn to ride a bicycle so she can pass her nurse training (it was an essential skill in the 1960s to be able to get about on two wheels) and the finale where Jane delivers a breech birth in a house surrounded by swirling fog. The personalities of the women in labour shine through and punctuate the classroom training anecdotes with warmth.

Strengths and weaknesses?

It’s certainly not as funny as the “It shouldn’t happen to a vet” series, and while there are funny moments (Jane trying to call a sister from someone’s house on a kid’s toy phone and her adventures with a bed pan to name two), it’s not a laugh-a-minute read. So if you are looking for full-on humour, this is not for you. I think I’d have liked to have learnt more about the differences between labour wards then and now, so more detail of the equipment used and procedures advised would have made it more intriguing for me, personally. That said, I liked the characterisation of the nurses in charge of the students, their cautionary tales about not going out at night and the discussion about how to handle unmarried mothers is also heartfelt.

Who should read it?

Anyone who trained in the 1960s as a midwife or a student looking to be a midwife now would find this book interesting – even though they may like more detail to compare and contrast. However, this book is not claiming to be a historical record, more a work offering a little light relief. And it achieves that exceedingly well. It’s an easy-to-read book that you can pick up and put down, and it’s an ideal distraction for a long journey or a pre-bedtime read.

Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls and Promise

3 April, 2012 Posted by: -


Title: Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls and Promise

Authors: Committee on Women’s Health Research

Publisher: The National Academies Press, 2010

Reviewer: Barbara O’Donnell, senior ODP, Whittington Health


What was it like?

More of a report in book-bound form, Women’s Health Research seeks to be a comprehensive review of the published research in the expanding areas of Women’s Health; not necessarily focused on the reproductive organs or their physiology. The authors are clear about their frustrations in looking at the volume and scope of available research, and the great difficulty in doing justice to this.  

Using research largely, but not entirely, based in the US (studies from Britain and Europe are included in the extensive reference sections at the end of each chapter), the book focuses on the female population of the US.

The following areas are used as the framework to explore progress in certain conditions:

  • Is current research focused on the most appropriate/relevant health conditions for women?
  • Is the research studying the most relevant groups of women?
  • Are the most appropriate research methods being applied?
  • Are research findings being used to effect changes in practice?
  • Are research findings being effectively communicated to female patients?
  • Current gaps in research
  • Review of key findings and recommendations based on same

The conditions explored range from those where the most progress has been made based on research, for example breast/cervical cancers and cardiovascular disease, through to conditions where little or no progress has been made, such as lung cancer, autoimmune diseases, maternal morbidity and mortality.

A chapter is included on research around determinants of women’s health, such as socio-economic factors and lifestyle habits. Where possible, gender biased studies are used, because certain conditions are clearly a female-only concern; while others, such as certain STI’s, have different or more profound potential consequences for women.

Along the way, the report takes into account the size, type and design of the studies looked at.


What were the highlights?

A thorough, modern review and summary of the main health conditions affecting women, taking into account many different factors, and showing how research is moving the knowledge and practice of women’s health to a more holistic viewpoint. One highlight is the  collation of all this information in order to make recommendations.

Strengths and weaknesses?

The committee involved in this report come from a variety of clinical backgrounds.  Progress over the last 20 years in specific conditions is covered, allowing the committee to identify gaps in research.  This may lead to new research needs being identified for certain groups, who may not be being studied sufficiently for their individual needs.

At times, due to the nature of the content, this book may be said to be heavy going.

You could argue that readers could  extrapolate the findings from those on US women to other female populations in first world countries but this may not always be practical for a variety of reasons.

Overall, this book does what it says on the cover, while acknowledging the enormous scope of the task undertaken, and being clear about the inability to include all conditions.

Who should read it?

All practitioners, clinical or research based, involved in Women’s Health, and those who have an interest in this area would find this book of interest.


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